18 January 2014

Boys B-Ball: Dittman's three buries Stars

Johnny Dittman's late three-pointer beat Holy Angels 60-59 (photo by Jim Lindquist)
With leading scorer Zach Speikers sitting out with a knee injury and his team trailing by a point with time running out, Johnny Dittman stepped into the spotlight and made the shot of his career.

The senior point guard's three-pointer from the top of the key, his only field goal of the night, hit nothing but net with 2.4 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Tigers an improbable 60-59 Missota Conference comeback win over Holy Angels Friday night in Richfield.

Dittman's game-winner capped a remarkable rally from a five-point deficit over the game's final 1:40.

"Thank goodness for Johnny's shot," Tiger coach Shane Wyandt said.  "It wasn't exactly how we drew it up in the huddle, but it got the job done.

"I can't say too much positive about our offense tonight but I thought our defense did a good job of keeping us in the game. We really scrapped, especially down the stretch."

Early on, the absence of Speikers (18.4 points a game) showed in major fashion. The Stars led by four points midway through the period before a late spurt led by Wyatt Ferm and Jordan DeCroock rallied the visitors.

Ferm finished with a dozen points off the bench in the opening half. DeCroock had seven, including a pair of three-pointers. Mac Bassett's rainbow three-pointer from 35 feet gave the Tigers a 34-29 halftime lead.

"With Zach (Speikers) out, I think we got a little out of sync," Wyandt said. "We are so used to running specials for him that the other guys sometime start to stand and watch. Overall, our decision making was very poor tonight.

Wyatt Ferm (center) had 16 points off the bench (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"We also got some guys in foul trouble early and our rotation got even more out of whack. We had combinations of players out there who were not used to playing with each other."

Things started to go downhill after the break when Holy Angels opened with a 12-2 run. With three minutes to play the Stars' lead stood at 57-54.

From there on, it was as tense as a high school basketball game could get. The Tigers did a good job of getting to the free throw line, but made just four of eight tries in the closing minutes.

Bassett made one of two with 51 seconds to go to cut the deficit to 59-57. The Stars then turned the ball over to set up Dittman's heroics.

"We were looking for the outside shot but Mac and Jordan were our first two options," Wyandt said. "But Johnny can shoot the ball. He's showed he can hit the three all season."

Dittman's shot found the bottom of the net with 2.4 seconds remaining but the officials added .8 of a second to the clock to further add to the intrigue.

A couple of time outs later, DeCroock made the point moot with a steal of the inbounds pass.

Ferm and Bassett finished as the top Farmington scorers with 16 points apiece. Ferm's total was a career high. DeCroock and Eli Rockett each added nine points to the winning recipe.

"Wyatt (Ferm) gave us a big spark tonight, especially in the first half," Wyandt said.

The victory was Farmington's 13th of the season (against three losses), one fewer than their entire win total from last season. The Tigers are 4-1 in Missota Conference play.

Tuesday night the Tigers step away from their Missota schedule when they entertain Spring Lake Park at Tiger Gym. Thursday they travel to Chanhassen to take on the Storm who are also 4-1 in conference play.