With emotions flowing during the 4th Annual “Paint It Pink Night” to bring awareness to the fight against cancer, the Van-Far boys basketball team was hoping to cap off the special night with a victory over Mark Twain.
Before the game started, freshman player Treyson Culwell gave a hug to his father Shannon Culwell, Jr., who is currently battling the disease.
After experiencing the moment with his teammates, the Indians’ offense exploded out of the gate to score 38 points in the first half and cruised to a 62-47 victory over Mark Twain.
“Tonight was a very special and personal night,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway.
“Everyone has someone that has dealt with cancer in one way or another and tonight we wanted to dedicate and honor one of our player’s dad who is going through this right now. The stands were packed and the crowd was electric and the kids responded well.”
While the outside shots weren’t falling early, the Indians made 8-of-10 free throws in the first half and attacked the rim just enough for a 38-19 halftime edge.
Connaway said he enjoyed going into halftime and not having to talk to his team about the need to come-from-behind for a win.
The Indains came out flat in the third quarter as Mark Twain outscored them 13-7 behind some outside shoooting.
Fortunately, the Indians never let the Tigers get closer than 13 points.
Van-Far made 22-of-46 shots from the field though they made just 4-of-18 3-point shots. Mark Twain made 8-of-17 3-pointers.
The Indians scored 34 points in the paint to Mark Twain’s 14.
Nick Barnes led the Indians with 14 points and six rebounds while Josh Hodde had 13 points and five rebounds.
Brayden Christian added 12 points; Caden Wilburn had nine points; Wyatt McDowell scored five points and six rebounds; Lathyn McMorris had four points and five rebounds; Parker Wallace scored three points; and Dillion Minor had two points.
Falling to the Wildcats
Earlier in the week, the Indians traveled to Montgomery County but a slow start was too much to overcome in an 85-75 loss to the Wildcats.
Both teams exchanged baskets early before the Wildcats closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 10-point lead.
Though Van-Far scored 21 points in the second quarter, Montgomery County made 3-pointers on three straight trips up court to take a 17-point lead.
The Indians did cut the gap to nine at halftime after McMorris scored 10 of his game-high 28 points in the second quarter. Hodde did get the lead to nine after making 2-of-3 free throws with no time left on the clock.
The Wildcats’ pressure got to the Indians in the third quarter as they pushed their lead back to 18. Hodde had hurt his back just before halftime and had to leave the game in the third, which hurt Van-Far.
The Indians cut the lead to seven with 1:30 remaining in the game but couldn’t get any closer.
“We were tired and our legs were dead and our free throws fell short,” said Connaway of his team that made just 11-of-23 free throws.
The Wildcats made 14-of-18 free throws in the win and outscored Van-Far 50-38 in the paint.
McMorris had 28 points and five rebounds while Barnes scored 21 points and eight rebounds. Hodde added nine points; Christian had five points; Wallace had five points; McDowell added four points and nine rebounds; and Wilburn scored three points.