BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Every foe that the Farmington boys basketball team has faced this season has met the same fate - a loss.
The unbeaten Cardinals (25-0, 9-0 in 4A-1 conference action) will put their perfect mark on the line again Friday night when they travel to face Pea Ridge.
Farmington head coach Johnny Taylor, whose team was 30-2 last season and lost to Blytheville 49-42 in the Class 4A state tournament quarterfinals, says this year’s Cardinals have been consistent in playing to their roles.
“We tell our guys believe in your role, stay in your role and star in your role and our guys have done that for the most part,” Taylor said. “Guys whose job is to be a defensive stopper are doing that, guys who are shooters have gone in and done their job.”
The latest win was an 80-64 home one over Berryville Monday night.
Junior guard Layne Taylor, the head coach’s son, continued his strong season with a triple double consisting of 16 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
“We say all the time play to our potential, not to our opponent,” Coach Taylor said. “We had some guys play to their potential tonight and some that didn’t.
“Obviously for us, playing to our potential is playing off the scouting report and guarding the way we want to guard. We had a ton of defensive mistakes tonight…which we had not been doing defensively all year.
The previous four games had Farmington down Shiloh Christian (96-29), Gentry (77-15), Huntsville (61-51) and Prairie Grove (84-28).
“We have been able to win a lot of different ways,” Coach Taylor said. “We can press, we can play half-court man, we can run a fast break and just being able to win multiple ways.
“We have done that even with having illness this season and guys out with injuries. We have kind of got our whole roster now and had it for the last couple of games. We are still trying to figure out which line up works best for us.”
Having beaten a short-handed Berryville squad 68-28 on Dec. 17 may have hurt Farmington’s intensity in the rematch per the Cardinals’ head coach.
“I think with our guys, we beat them at Berryville…and we played a lot better that night,” Taylor said. “It is a long season and we say all the time that it is a marathon and not a sprint and we survived another night I guess.”
Layne Taylor has proven himself one of the state’s best high school players and had 40 points in a win over Forrest City earlier this season.
“This is his third year and he just scored his 2,000th (career) point,” Coach Taylor said. “I am really proud of how good a teammate he is, how good of a leader. Every game he obviously draws five sets of eyes on every possession and all of their team is stare at him when he has the ball.”
He’s received solid support from teammates Maddox Mahan, Jaeden Newsome, twins Josh and Caleb Blakely, Jackson Berry, Kaden Hughes, Sam Kirkman and others.
That has allowed the younger Taylor to become more of a distributor this season.
Taylor averaged 26 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.4 steals per game as sophomore with a school-record 61-point outburst against Huntsville.
“His economy of motion is efficient,” Coach Taylor said. “In the past he had to score more, but this year he has been able to set people up with their shooting on the corners. We also have more size inside so we have been able to have more post entry sets.”
Farmington can not let up or the perfect mark will disappear per Taylor.
The Cardinals handled the Blackhawks 77-57 on Dec. 21.
“It’s tough for us because we get everybody’s best game,” Coach Taylor said. “But we just have to keep doing our best, continue to get get healthy and push forward.”
Photo by John D. James