Van-Far boys basketball head coach Pat Connaway said missed free throws were the difference in a 60-53 loss to Tolten Catholic on Tuesday, January 8.
“Tonight we came out of the gates strong, but then really struggled on both ends of the floor in the second quarter,” Connaway said. “We let their zone press really give us trouble and we turned the ball over too many times which led to easy transition baskets for them. At halftime we talked about coming out and cutting the lead in half by the end of the third, we talked about slowing down offensively and protecting the basketball.”
The Indians edged Tolten early before the Trailblazers answered with an 8-0 rally to finish the first quarter up 13-11.
Trouble with the Indians’ 12 attempts at the free throw line and shots from the field plagued Van-Far in the second quarter, as Tolten tallied 22 points to win the half at 35-23.
The Indians returned to the court after halftime sinking 46 percent of their buckets to lessen Tolten’s hold but still trailed 45-38 by the end of the third quarter.
Two timely perimeter shots put the Indians six points behind the Trailblazers in the fourth quarter and the Indians then tied the game at 50-50 with 3:20 on the clock.
Van-Far went point for point with Tolten at the free throw line as time dwindled down before a 6-0 Trailblazers’ drive left the Indians less than a minute to make something happen. Ethan Gooch came to the line to lessen Tolten’s edge to just three points before two fouls let the Trailblazers close the contest with four free throws.
The Indians were 8-for-23 from the field in the first half and 5-for-14 from the line. Overall, they were 20-for-51 from the field and 9-for-22 from the line.
“We played a really strong third quarter and played really well the first six minutes of the fourth quarter,” Connaway said. “Our defense really got us back into the game; we held them to 15 points in 14 minutes of basketball in the second half and we were able to take a 51-50 lead. Unfortunately for us we weren’t able to close out the game.”
Gooch led the Indians with 14 points, three assist, four rebounds, and one steal; Ryan Nelson followed with 13 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and one steal; Brian Kurz tallied 12 points, seven rebounds, and one steal; Nick Barnes had seven points, five rebounds, three assists, and one steal; and Logan Boyd chipped in four points, three assists, two rebounds, and one steal.
Falls to Silex
With foul trouble landing some of Van-Far’s major players on the bench in the second quarter against Silex, the Indians fell 60-40 on the road Friday, January 11.
Despite the club’s foul trouble, the Indians only trailed by one point in both the first and second quarters, ending the half at 23-21.
“In the second quarter, we really had to grind things out to stay in the game,” Connaway said. “They were able to speed us up, we committed too many turnovers. The whistles weren’t going our way and we got into major foul trouble.”
Silex’s pace continued to trouble Van-Far in the third quarter as the Owls posted 22 points with Kurz and Barnes picking up their fourth fouls of the game for more bench time.
“Once those two went out, Gooch had to try and break the press by himself; we were out of sync the rest of the way,” Connaway said. “We really need to have more confidence handling the ball and someone needs to be able to step up and help Ethan out. The entire second half we lost our composure and got sucked into their style of play. We have got to do a better job of recognizing things and settling down. We have three seniors with a ton of varsity experience and we need to start utilizing that experience and be able to settle ourselves down. I understand that they are kids and get caught up in emotions, but we need to realize that we can’t play that way.”
Gooch led the Indians with 15 points and 10 rebounds; Kurz, with 11 rebounds, and Nelson, with 10 rebounds, each chipped in six points; Barnes tallied five points; and Woodrow Jackson had four points.