11 January 2014

Boys B-Ball: Tigers stun No. 7 Wingers 69-64

Zach Speikers 33 points (photo by Jim Lindquist)
For the first 28 minutes of Farmington's Missota Conference win over seventh-ranked (3A) Red Wing Friday night at Tiger Gym it looked nothing like the team that had won 10 of its first 13 games.

Shots, especially from in the paint, weren't falling. Turnovers were piling up, time was running out and the Wingers were sitting on a 62-50 lead.

Then all of a sudden a switch tripped and the game turned on a dime. Farmington held its guests without a field goal the rest of the way to finish with a 69-64 victory.

"I wish I knew why and we would fix it," Tiger coach Shane Wyandt said of his team's Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde personality. "We had a great comeback but we didn't have to be in that position in the first place."

The Tigers did jump to an early 14-7 lead but the hot-shooting Wingers made short work of their deficit, outscoring the home team 29-15 the rest of the half. Red Wing hit 15 of 27 shots (56 percent), including six three-pointers, over the first 18 minutes.

Zach Speikers' 14 points first half points were the only reasons the Tigers were within shouting distance at the break.

"The Missota Conference has some great shooting teams this year," Wyandt said, "and we are going to have to find a way to be more consistent from the start if we are going to compete."

Red Wing extended its lead to as many as 18 points at 59-41 after intermission, hitting six of its first seven shots of the second period.

Three-pointers by Speikers and Mac Bassett and an old-fashioned three-point play by Speikers sliced the deficit to 12 points and then momentum took its 180 degree turn.

Bassett's corner three cut the Winger lead to 62-60 with 4:00 minutes to play and Johnny Dittman's free throws 17 seconds later knotted the score.

Eli Rockett (No. 21) 12 points, 14 rebounds (photo by Jim Lindquist)
A steal by Eli Rockett led to Speikers' twisting left-handed lay-up with a minute to play gave Farmington the lead for good.

The final five points came from the foul line. Bassett made one of two with 27 seconds left and then Speikers drained four straight to complete the turnaround.

"I would say the two things that keyed the run were our defensive intensity and our decision making." Wyandt said. "We do those two things and we are a good basketball team. We just need to do them the whole game."

Speikers had another brilliant offensive night for the winners, finishing with 33 points, includuing six three-pointers and a perfect 7-for 7 from the foul line.

Rockett added a statistical double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Dittman added 10 points, finishing in double figures for the fourth straight game. Nick Varner scored just two points but chipped in with nine rebounds.

Jordan DeCroock played sparingly because of illness and rotation regulars Tyler VanWinkle and Wyatt Ferm both sat out because of the same reason.

That gave some playing time to sophomore Alex Hart who spelled both Rockett and Varner inside and contributed a basket and solid defensive play.

The Tigers hit the road next week for two more conference games, at New Prague on Tuesday and at Holy Angels on Friday.