PARK HILLS – Farmington basketball senior Brendon Hardy felt a sense of relief after his team initially failed to close out Central at the end of regulation on Saturday.
After enduring a number of narrow losses in marquee rivalry games this season, the Knights avenged both of their conference setbacks to repeat as MAAA Tournament champions.
Farmington netted the first two field goals in overtime after a dramatic shot by opposing sophomore Brent Wagner had extended the game, and prevailed 55-50 at Sechrest Fieldhouse.
“We lost to Central and North County in the conference regular season, so it was nice to win here in the tournament,” Hardy said. “Our game plan is to run and gun, but they forced into a half-court game, and we had to fight through that.”
Tycen Gray recorded yet another massive double-double with 20 points and 16 rebounds, and powered through multiple defenders for a basket to begin the extra session.
Hardy followed with 3-pointer moments later to create a 48-44 separation, but was promptly matched by Rebels senior Wade Scherffius from the deep left wing.
Breven McMullen muscled in his shot from the post while drawing contact, but the missed free throw enabled Farmington to remain in front 50-49.
The Knights (15-8) got a pivotal defensive stop while leading by two inside the final minute. Cameron Friend then converted a pair from the line to create a two-possession lead.
Scherffius tallied 19 points with four assists, and hit a slashing scoop to give Central a 35-33 edge. But the Rebels turned cold during six-minute field goal drought in the fourth quarter.
Gray dribbled end to end, and sold a subtle hesitation to register a layup. Jackson Schrum used second effort to complete a subsequent 3-point play, and Farmington led 42-36 with 1:56 remaining.
The Knights cleared a rebound while clinging to a 43-40 margin, but an errant pass was tracked down by hustling Central forward Holden Mayberry, who alertly called a timeout while sliding to the floor.
The Rebels were forced to operate well beyond the 3-point arc as the final seconds of regulation ticked down, but Wagner temporarily rescued them with an electrifying 24-footer in desperation.
“Our captains just tried to get everybody together and say ‘We’re fine. This is still our game.’ And I think we came back and proved it,” said Hardy, who added two clinching free throws among 17 points.
McMullen had 11 points and Wagner ended with nine before fouling out for Central. Mayberry grabbed seven rebounds, and likewise departed the action with five fouls.
The Rebels (15-9) coasted into the title game as top seed with eight available bodies since several junior varsity players had already exhausted their tournament limit for the season.
Central grabbed the largest lead of the first half for either squad at 20-15 after Scherffius and Jake Casey opened the second quarter with consecutive 3-pointers.
Five straight points from Hardy ignited a quick 7-0 response by Farmington. But Wagner connected from long range, and the Rebels entered halftime leading 27-24 following a Mayberry putback.
Gray began the game with a corner triple, and Farmington regained a 15-14 advantage as Cole Laurence crashed the offensive glass just before the first quarter expired.