Only 10 boys basketball teams in the state of Missouri can say they ended their season with a “W.” For the second year in a row, the Van-Far boys basketball team is once again one of those teams.
The Indians pulled away from Plattsburg in the Class 1 third place game today to pick up a convincing 56-34 victory. The game was played inside the Hammons Student Center on the campus of Missouri State University.
“This is a great group of kids,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway in the Media Room after the win. “Coach (Reading) and I are blessed to have them, work with them. What a better way to send them out, to send them out with a ‘W’… Only 10 schools end their season with a ‘W’, and we were lucky enough to be one of them…Today, we showed up, very workmanlike like we always are, played hard, very aggressive, and we weren’t passive today. We’re blessed and happy to be the third place team in the state…Someone told us last year, wasn’t it coach, once in a lifetime, right? Well, we did it back-to-back years coming down here so we’re darn sure going to try it again.”
In his final game for the Indians, senior Caden Wilburn said he was happy with the victory.
“We made it back to Springfield, we fell a little short, but I’m okay with third place,” he said. “It’s better than losing. We end out on a win.”
Senior Trey Miller noted the work his team put into this season after winning it all last year.
“Started out rough, but it took a lot hard practice, a lot of eye openers, and we ended up getting this trophy. I’m proud of my team.”
Senior Treyson Culwell was thankful this group of Indians had one more time to shine together.
“A lot of us been together since first grade and have played together ever since,” he said. “And it was really special to play with everyone one last time and end on a win.”
Coach Connaway was thankful for the great fan support all season long, and he was particularly grateful for the help of coach Brett Reading.
“I want to thank Coach Reading for everything he does,” he said. “A great friend, a great coach, great leader. I’m blessed to work with him.”
The third place game was tight early as it went back and forth. Miller scored four points and Dillion Minor came off the bench to make two baskets to help Van-Far go up 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Plattsburg tied the game at 12 early in the second quarter before a strange turn of events. Miller was fouled, and on the same play, a Plattsburg player was whistled for a technical. Miller went to the free throw line and nailed four straight free throws. As the Indians still had possession after the technical, Miller hit a three-pointer for his own 7-0 run.
The Indians extended it to a 12-0 run as Miller had nine points in the quarter to give Van-Far a 28-19 halftime lead. Sam Middleton came off the bench to score four big points for Van-Far.
In the third quarter, Caden Wilburn made two three-pointers :32 seconds a part to stall any momentum for Plattsburg.
Van-Far pushed the lead to 17 by the end of the third quarter. In the fourth, Van-Far managed to push the lead to 20 before cruising to the 22-point win.
Miller led the Indians with 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block while Caden Wilburn tallied 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists.
Verdell Johnson was solid with six points, five assists, three rebounds, and two steals.
“Verdell played tremendous,” Connaway said. “He played a great game. He was a great point guard today.”
Verlyn Johnson added six points, four rebounds, and one steal; Treyson Culwell had four points, three rebounds, and one steal; Minor scored four points and four rebounds; Middleton added four points, two rebounds, and one assist; Aidan Lowrance scored two points; Morgan Slatten had two points; Colin Wilburn had four rebounds and two assists; Jamael Troy scored one point; and Rylee Hanson had one steal.