|Mac Bassett 17 points, 4 steals (photo by J. Lindquist)|
Farmington paid no heed to that school of thought in its Section 1AAAA quarterfinal match-up with Missota Conference rival Northfield Thursday night at Tiger Gym, routing the Raiders 66-47.
The Tigers had beaten their neighbors to the south by three and 20 points in their two meetings during the regular season.
With the opening round win the second-seeded Tigers raised their season record to 19-7 and landed a spot in Saturday's semifinals against third-seeded Rochester John Marshall at Tiger Gym
The victory was especially satisfying for two reasons: 1) It came despite the absence of leading scorer Zach Speikers (19.1 points per game) who tore his ACL in the regular season finale and 2) The so called "home court" advantage was mostly negated by the large Farmington contingent attending the boys' hockey section championship game being played at the same time in Rochester.
None of those things seemed to influence the Tigers play, however. A hawking defense, control of the glass and most of all, the ability to knock down shots produced a 39-17 halftime lead.
The contest was tight early with the Tigers clinging to a 12-11 lead before an 18-0 run by the home team put it up by 19 points. Farmington shot a white-hot 14 of 19 (74 percent) from the field over the first 18 minutes.
"I thought it was a true team effort on both ends of the floor," coach Shane Wyandt said. "We traded some baskets early but I don't think it was really due to poor defense.
"As they started missing some shots, we did a nice job of rebounding and getting out into transition. We played eight deep and were pretty steady for most of the half."
The lead swelled to 25 points after the halftime break before the Raiders battled back to at one time cut the margin to 15.
|Tyler VanWinkle pulled down a team-high six rebounds (photo by Jim Lindquist)|
With Speikers out, the Tigers spread the scoring load around with four players finishing in double figures. Mac Bassett led the way with 17. Johnny Dittman had 12, Wyatt Ferm 11 and Eli Rockett 10.
Nick Varner chipped in with six points, six assists, five rebounds and four blocks. Tyler VanWinkle scored just one point but contributed a team-high six rebounds, two steals, two blocks and a pair of assists.
"We feel we have a solid group even without Zach," Wyandt said. "We cannot replace him with one guy but some of our bench guys are very capable of stepping up and handling a little more of the load.
"Tyler (VanWinkle) did a nice job on defense and helped out on the glass. That is what we really need from him. He's a guy that we need to be steady and win some hustle points. That's very important for us."
The Tigers downed John Marshall 79-69 when the teams met in Rochester in the third game the season but the Rockets have been playing well of late. They finished the regular season 19-6 and routed Hastings 75-53 in their section opener.
"We had nice offensive balance and a solid defensive effort at their place." Wyandt said. "You could really see our kids buckle down each defensive possession. It's that effort and attitude on defense and soild executuion on offense which will make us successful."
Tip-off for the semifinal match-up is 7:00 Saturday night at Tiger Gym.