Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway was hoping his team could get off to a good start when they opened the season with a road contest at South Callaway. Things didn’t look good early when the Bulldogs outscored the Indians 23-18 in the first quarter.
Fortunately, Van-Far rallied to outscore South Callaway 53-43 in the final three quarters to seal a 71-66 victory.
The Indians scored 71 points in spite of making just one 3-pointer.
“This is big for us also since we were so perimeter-based last year,” Connaway said. “Tonight, we scored 44 points in the paint. A big difference from last year. I’m looking forward to us getting better each day.”
In the first quarter, the Indians missed a lot of easy baskets and struggled passing the ball as South Callaway took an early five-point lead.
Trey Miller fortunately came off the bench to score six of his 11 points in the first to give the Indians a needed energy boost.
Josh Hodde then took over by pushing the ball up the floor and the Indians wore down the Bulldogs to cut the lead to one at halftime.
“In the locker room we talked about turning the corner and being able to win a tough road game versus a good team,” Connaway noted.
The Indians outscored South Callaway 36-30 in the second half before holding on for the win.
As a team, Van-Far shot 48% from the field and made 20-of-30 free throws.
Lathyn McMorris led Van-Far with 20 points; Hodde added 17 points and eight rebounds; Brayden Christian had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds; Miller added 11 points and seven rebounds; and Caden Wilburn scored seven points.
“It definitely was a game we wouldn’t have won last year,” Connaway said. “We are more mature this year and I don’t think we’ll get our feathers ruffled nearly as much this season. Tonight was a great team victory. Any time you have four kids in double figures and four kids close to double digit rebounds your playing well.”
Falling to Louisiana
Coming off their season-opening win, the Indians were hoping to carry that momentum into their home opener against Van-Far graduate Matt Smith and his Louisiana Bulldogs.
Unfortunately, a slow start before a late rally fell short in a 50-49 loss.
Louisiana had a one-point lead with :30 seconds left.
Hodde missed two free throws eight seconds later and the Indians were forced to foul the Bulldogs to get them into the bonus. After a missed one a one-and-one with :13 seconds left in the game, a set was run to give McMorris a good look but his shot rimmed out. Sharrod O’Connor kept the ball alive before it went out of bounds off of a Louisiana player with .7 seconds left.
Hodde then caught a pass in the mid-air and his shot hit the backboard and missed off the front iron.
“It was a tough loss,” Connaway said. “We made a lot of mental errors and we went a little too much one on one. Game situations we need to get better at. With a three point lead and :30 seconds left we need to defend the 3-point line, especially when one of the best shooters in the area is on the floor. We picked a horrible time to lose him and he made us pay.”
Miller finished with a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds as he made 8-of-11 shots from the field.
McMorris finished with 19 points; Hodde had nine points and five rebounds; and Connor scored four points.