|Zach Speikers career high 38 points (photo by J. Lindquist)|
The win, the second of the season over the Raiders, upped Farmington's record to 8-2 with two non-conference games remaining before the start of the 14-game Missota Conference campaign.
Tiger coach Shane Wyandt said the victory in the third place game was bittersweet.
"It was good to see us bounce back after last night's loss to Burnsville," he said, "but we have a lot of work to do. We came into this tournament with the goal of winning it and that stings a little bit....At this point we are nowhere near where we want and need to be."
At times the rematch with the Raiders took on the look of a playground game with the Tigers fast break alternately producing easy baskets and turnovers. The Raiders countered with an outside shooting barrage and an assault on the offensive glass.
Speikers who was held to a season-low six points in the Burnsville loss, scored 10 quick points as the Tigers led by as many by as many as 15 points in the opening half.
By intermission, the lead stood at 49-37 with Speikers hitting the break with 21 points on a variety of lay-ups, short jumpers and arcing three-pointers.
"No question about it," Wyandt said. "Zach was ready to go tonight. The first few possessions we ran some specials to get him going and he took it from there."
|Eli Rockett (No. 21) scored 24 points (photo by Jim Lindquist)|
"Wyatt's play in the tournament was a real positive for us," Wyandt said. "We're going to need that in the conference."
With Speikers and Rockett leading the way, The Farmington lead swelled to as many as 18 in the second half but the feisty Raiders wouldn't go away. With fewer than three minutes to play, the lead had been cut to six points at 83-77.
Two free throws apiece by Rockett, two more by Johnny Dittman and a slam dunk by Rockett off a lob by Mac Bassett stretched the cushion back to double digits with a minute left in regulation.
Speikers was uncanny from the field, missing only two of 18 shots and canning a trio of three-pointers. He and Rockett also yanked down six rebounds apiece. Varner and Dittman tied for team honors in assists with three.
"It's nice to see one or two of our guys go off like that," Wyandt said of the Speikers-Rockett outburst, "but to be honest we are a better team when we are more balanced. You don't like to depend on one or two guys to do it all. That's not a good recipe for success."
The Tigers will have several days to work on that scoring balance. They don't play until next Thursday (Jan. 3) when they kick-off a back-to-back finish to their non-conference season with a home game against North St. Paul. The following night they travel to Irondale.