Tigers boys' basketball changes roles

  • Article by: AARON PAITICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 29, 2013 - 12:54 AM

Farmington takes a position at the top of the boys’ basketball heap with top-10 ranking and 7-1 record.

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Guard Zach Speikers has blossomed for the Tigers this year. The team is 7-1 and ranked in the Class 4A top 10.

Photo: Terry Varner • Special to the Star Tribune, DML -

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Farmington boys’ basketball coach Shane Wyandt knows he has a good squad on his hands. So good that it cracked the Class 4A top-10 rankings last week after putting together a 7-1 record to start the season.

While the recognition was nice, it reminded Wyandt, in his 10th year as the Tigers’ leader, of the team’s last stint on the list back in the 2008-09 season.

“We were ranked for three or four days” before losing in the next game and falling out, Wyandt said. “I think that’s one of my concerns as a coach.”

He doesn’t want the team to get too cocky or complacent now that it has been noticed. Because of the roster’s makeup, he doesn’t think that should be a problem. It’s full of veterans. It’s full of expectations.

“We came in with pretty high hopes,” Wyandt said. “We came back with a lot of experience and some pretty good ballplayers.”

Some weren’t sure if this team would be for real.

“There were some mixed reviews from the outside looking in,” Wyandt said. “But I think a lot of people thought we’d certainly be in the conversation for our section and our conference.”

Now they are finding out for sure. Fans and casual observers are seeing an exciting brand of basketball.

The Tigers took on Lakeville North in a memorable game a couple of weeks ago. Wyandt received e-mails and phone calls afterward from people raving about what a great game it was. Farmington led most of the way but ran into foul trouble. Lakeville North managed to tie the score late and send the game to overtime. The Panthers won 104-99.

It’s the only blemish on the Tigers’ record.

Junior Zach Speikers has blossomed for the Tigers.

“People are taking notice,” Wyandt said. “He’s a real dynamic scorer and really one of the better players in our area as a junior.”

Speikers primarily has been a shooting guard, but he has played point guard when needed. He is shooting 50 percent from three-point range and is well-rounded offensively with a much-improved defensive game.

Mac Basset is a three-year varsity player and the team’s top returning scorer. He runs the floor and is a good slasher who can score. He’s also the team’s best perimeter defender.

Eli Rockett and Nick Varner man the post. Varner, a starter since he was a freshman, has received all-Missota Conference honors. He beefed up in the weight room during the offseason and has been close to averaging a double-double.

“And all that being said, we’re expecting this to be his breakout year,” Wyandt said. “He’s done well, but the way he’s starting out this year is very, very well.”

Rockett is starting to register on many colleges’ radars. He didn’t start playing basketball until he was in eighth grade. He will be playing college basketball.

“His ball skills and his basketball ability — we still haven’t seen his ceiling yet,” Wyandt said. “That’s what I tell the recruiters that come to see him. He’s still improving and learning the game.”

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