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Defending state champions set for upcoming season

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Van-Far boys basketball. Front row, from left: Coach Pat Connway, Treyson Culwell, Riley Culwell, Caden Wilburn, Trey Miller, Mel Troy, Dillion Minor, and Verlyn Johnson. Back row: Morgan Slatten, Sam Middleton, Aidan Lowrance, Colin Wilburn, Julian Holtkamp, Trevor Lower, Verdell Johnson, and Rylee Hanson. Not pictured: Coach Brett Reading.

It can’t get much better for the Van-Far boys basketball program than how their season finished a year ago.
They compiled a 29-3 record and finished out their schedule in March by holding up the Class 2 state championship plaque.
In spite of losing a lot of scoring to the graduation of four graduating seniors, the Indians have enough returning starters and a mix of bench players that the coaching staff hopes can find the right balance by season’s end to make another special postseason run.
Returning players include Trey Miller, Caden Wilburn, Colin Wilburn, Treyson Culwell, and Dillion Minor. Several players who saw JV minutes a season ago will play key roles coming off the bench and perhaps some may earn their way in the starting lineup.
“We expect to come out every night, compete hard, be a big team and physical team, a rebounding team, and a defensive team,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway.
Offensively, the Indians will look to pound the ball inside, working inside to out, which provides a little different look to opposing teams.
“We still have shooters, we’re just so much bigger,” Connaway added.
“I think the strength will be inside the paint.”
Defensively, the team will be working man-to-man, half court, full court, and just working to find what suits this group of guys the best.
In the offseason, the Indians gained valuable experience by going to Kansas State, where they saw some quality competition as they advanced to the championship in their division. Advancing to that game gave Connaway’s team a chance to play on Kansas State’s home court, giving the squad a flash back reminder of their last time on a collegiate court.
That was when they held the Class 2 state championship plaque above their head at the home of Missouri State University.
This season, the Indians have a new district featuring several EMO Conference schools, including an Elsberry squad they faced in the state sectionals a year ago.
With realignment, a district title could give them a sectional and not a quarterfinal match up with a Milan team they rallied to defeat to advance to last year’s Final Four.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Connaway said of their going against some of the best teams in Class 2 in northeast Missouri in postseason play.