Van-Far head boys basketball coach Pat Connaway knew a recent stretch for his Indians in two area tournament was not going to be easy. His squad was the No. 8 seed in both the Palmyra and Bowling Green tournaments and the seeding proved too much as Van-Far lost all three games.
In the first round of the Bowling Green Tournament against No. 1 seed Elsberry on Monday night, Van-Far had no answers for Elsberry’s balanced attack and lost 64-25.
It appeared early Van-Far would be competitive as Brian Kurz answered Elsberry’s early 3-pointer with a basket to keep the score at 3-2. Unfortunately, Elsberry made a 6-0 run and opened up a 20-9 lead as they dunked the ball at the end of the first quarter.
Van-Far made just 2-of-10 shots from the field in the second quarter as Kurz provided the lone offense. He scored five points in the quarter and nine points in the half as his team trailed 36-16.
Elsberry pulled away for good in the third quarter hitting two 3-pointers and outscoring Van-Far 24-5 to open their lead to 39 points.
The mercy clock started in the fourth as Elsberry’s reserves sealed the victory.
Van-Far made just 10-of-38 shots from the field in the loss while turning the ball over 21 times.
Elsberry made 27-of-51 shots from the field in the win.
Kurz finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and one assist while Ryan Nelson tallied six points and five rebounds. Ethan Gooch scored five points, four assists, three rebounds, and one steal; Kyle Decker had two points, three rebounds, and one steal; Ryan Teague had one point, two rebounds, and two assists; Logan Boyd had two rebounds, two steals, and two assists; Alex Culver added one steal and one rebound; and Brett Hubert had one rebound.
Van-Far will play in the consolation semifinals of the Bowling Green Tournament at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 25.
In the first round of the Palmyra Tournament, the Indians ran into top seed Canton and lost 73-34.
The game was tied at 2-2 before Canton went on an 18-0 run for a 26-5 first quarter lead and 47-15 at halftime. Canton outscored Van-Far 26-19 in the second half and cruised to a 39-point point victory.
“Canton came out of the game and took it to us right from the opening tip,” Connaway said. “They pressured us and we turned the ball over several times which led to easy baskets…We let them intimidate us, we didn’t want to handle the ball, we didn’t make good passes, and when we did we didn’t catch the basketball.”
Kurz led Van-Far with 11 points, Nelson scored 10, Teague added six, Gooch scored five, and Culver had two.
In the consolation semifinals against Mark Twain, the Indians trailed 20-15 at halftime before falling late in a rematch with Chad Reading and the Tigers, 41-38.
Van-Far had three chances to tie the game or take the lead with under a minute left in the game but either turned the ball over or missed an open shot. Gooch missed a heavily-contested 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
Though the Indians lost, Connaway was pleased with how his team played.
“In the locker room, we asked them to play hard for 32 minutes and they did,” he said. “Coach (Brett) Reading told the boys our goal tonight was to hold them to 37 points. We thought that was a good number in order to get a win. We knew we had to play great defense if we wanted to have a chance…We need to be that good on defense every night and then we need to find someone who wants the ball in their hands and is willing to take charge handling the ball when the pressure and game is on the line. If we can put these two things together along with limiting our turnovers we can get this thing going in the right direction.”
Gooch scored a team-high 14 points; Kurz had 12 points; Teague and Culver each scored five points; and Decker had two points.