For most of this season, the Van-Far Indians basketball team has been looking to put together a complete game with four solid quarters of basketball on both offense and defense.
With their rescheduled Pink Out game against rival Bowling Green on a Saturday, the stars finally aligned for the Indians.
Van-Far made 9-of-19 shots from 3-point range, made 18-of-20 free throws, and only trailed early in the first quarter of a 65-56 victory over the Bobcats.
“This was a great and well needed win for our program and will hopefully be the turning point for us,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway.
“We have been telling them all along that we need a signature win against an excellent program and we got that today. Now we need to remember how we played and what we did and make sure that effort becomes the norm for us. If we play like we did today against everyone we will be in great positions to get victories…I am very proud of the victory and the boys. It was just an amazing end to an amazing day at Van-Far. Thanks to everyone that made this great day for a great cause possible.”
Connaway added that the atmosphere of the day built around fighting cancer was special to be a part of.
“It was a great atmosphere today,” Connaway said.
“Seeing all the pink in the stands and all the people standing up holding their survivor signs up was unbelievable. It was a very emotional day. Coach (Joe) Basinger and his entire FBLA group did a magnificent job putting this day together.”
Bowling Green took an early 4-2 lead and little did they know it would be their last for the game.
Wyatt McDowell made two straight 3-pointers and Nick Barnes added one for a 9-0 run. They extended the run to 11-0. Barnes ended the quarter with two more 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer to put Van-Far up 19-12.
McDowell made two 3-pointers during an 8-0 run in the second quarter. Sharrod Connor paced Van-Far with five points as the Indians led 36-21 at halftime.
Van-Far made 11-of-19 shots from the field and all six free throws in the first half. Van-Far made eight of their nine 3-pointers in the game in the first half. Their 36 points were more than what they scored one night earlier against Clopton.
Bowling Green began to make it a game again in the third quarter as they put together a 13-0 run to close the gap to 43-38.
Though the Bobcats made four 3-pointers in the fourth, Van-Far sealed the win by making 12-of-14 free throws.
Barnes scored 11 points in the quarter while Connor converted a big 3-point play and scored five points to help the Indians pull away.
“I am most proud of the way we didn’t melt away when they made their runs at us,” Connaway said.
Barnes scored a team-high 25 points after making 11-of-12 free throws and shooting 50% from behind the 3-point arc. He also had five assists, three steals, and two rebounds.
McDowell made 5-of-9 of his 3-pointers for 15 points, three rebounds, and two assists. Connor tallied 11 points after making 7-of-8 free throws. He also had eight rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
John Gerdeman tallied six points, seven rebounds, two blocks, one assist, and one steal; Decker had six points, six rebounds, and one assist; and Lucas Robinson had two points.
Before the win over their rivals, the Indians had tough losses to Wright City and Clopton.
In Wright City on Thursday night, the Indians’ team defense hurt them in the first quarter as they found themselves quickly down 18-9.
Sharrod Connor hurt his knee midway through the second quarter and missed the rest of the game.
While the defense recovered, Van-Far trailed 27-16 at halftime.
The Indians started the second half with a lot of intensity as they outscored Wright City 18-8 in the third quarter.
“We came out in the third quarter and we were very intense,” Connaway said. “Nick, John, and Kyle really asserted themselves on the offensive end and defensively we were really active.”
Van-Far cut the lead to one point heading into the fourth quarter before struggling in the final four minutes of the game.
The Indians were outscored 15-10 and lost 50-44.
“We had several mental mistakes and missed key block outs when they were shooting free throws in the final seconds of the game,” Connaway said. “We let one slip away tonight, we haven’t been in that situation much this year and we panicked, we are still trying to learn how to win and tonight our inexperience at the end of the game really showed.”
Barnes scored 18 points and Gerdeman added eight points and 10 rebounds. Decker had six points and 11 rebounds; Connor added five points; McDowell scored three points; and both Robinson and Michael Colson scored two points.
One night later, the Indians trailed Clopton 28-16 at halftime and never scored double digits in any quarter during a 58-32 loss.
Foul trouble plagued the Indians as Gerdeman and Decker each had three fouls already in the second quarter.
With both picking up four fouls in the third quarter, Clopton stretched their lead to 20 points. The Hawks shot 33 free throws and held on for a 26-point win.
Connor scored 11 points and Barnes added 10 points. Robinson, McDowell, and Gerdeman each scored three points while Decker scored two points.