Van-Far’s varsity boys basketball head coach Pat Connaway said the squad played a hard fought battle against Louisiana in the first round of the Class 2, District 5 tournament but not could hold on for a win, taking a tough 68-62 loss to end the 2012-13 season.
“We played very hard and probably played our best all around game this year,” Connaway said. “The game was played a little more physical than I would have liked. Our guards are small and we don’t handle the rough physical hand checking very well, but we played through it and kept our composure.”
The Bulldogs held a narrow 16-13 edge after the first quarter. Van-Far rallied in the second, winning it 17-13 for a 21-20 lead at the half.
“In the first half they jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead and we called a timeout just to settle our nerves,” Connaway said.
“We played very good basketball the rest of the half outscoring them 30 to 24 to take a one point lead into the half. I was very proud of the way we kept fighting and didn’t let the crowd or the officiating bother us.”
Louisiana came out of the locker room to win the third 17-11 with the Indians falling short in the fourth quarter, 22-21, in the six-point loss,
“The second half was back and forth throughout,” Connaway said.
“Louisiana would build a five-to-eight point lead and we would slice it back to one or two. I give Louisiana credit they were able to knock down free throws at the end of the game and put us away.”
He said the bulldogs made 7-of-9 free throws in the second half and 14-for-17 overall.
“We ultimately had too many turnovers and missed too many free throws and those two things have been our Achilles heel all year long,” Connaway said.
Brian Kurz led the way for the Indians with 16 points, two assists, and 11 rebounds. Ethan Gooch had 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds; Nick Barnes tallied 15 points, four assists, and two rebounds; Ryan Nelson chipped in seven points, one assist, and 12 rebounds; John Gerdeman had seven points, one assist, and five rebounds; and Logan Boyd had two points, one assist, and four rebounds. Kyle Decker had two rebounds.
Overall, Van-Far was 12-for-45 from the field and 11-for-18 from the free throw line.
“It was the final time that seniors Brian Kurz, Ethan Gooch, Ryan Nelson, and Cody Stubblefield will put on the Van-Far uniform for us,” Connaway added. “They have been great assets to our program. Each of these kids have been with me for six years and are like my own kids. These young men hold a very special place in my heart and in my family’s. I have had the pleasure of seeing them mature from little boys into outstanding young men. They are truly great young men both on and off the court. The team unity we had this year was truly something special, you normally don’t see seniors welcome and embrace younger kids like these four did. They are truly amazing individuals and will be sorely missed. Coach (Brett) Reading and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of these kids lives.”
The Indians finished 8-16 on the season and 2-7 in conference play.