The Van-Far Indians entered last week’s Bowling Green Tournament with the goal of winning some hardware in the annual event.
While the team was unable to win the top prize, they did manage to knock off a bigger host team in Bowling Green to win a third place plaque.
The solid finish combined with the school winning three other big competitions helped to seal a solid week for the school district.
“It was a great week for our program with this third place finish in the Bowling Green tourney, the JV boys won the Montgomery County Tournament, the girls won consolation, and our cheerleaders won the cheer tournament in Bowling Green,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway. “It’s a great day to be an Indian.”
While the boys had hoped to play an up-tempo game early, missing some easy shots and unforced turnovers helped the Bobcats take a 13-10 first quarter lead.
Van-Far liked its pace of the game and finally saw some shots fall through the basket in the second quarter. Brayden Christian hit a big 3-pointer just before halftime to give Van-Far a 25-24 edge at the break.
With a goal of executing and finishing better in the third quarter, the Indians responded by outscoring Bowling Green, 24-17. Lathyn McMorris made two big 3-pointers and Josh Hodde hit another.
Sharrod Connor, who just recently returned to action, picked up several steals that led to easy baskets.
“Our defense wasn’t really good in the third, but we were able to really speed the pace of the game up and we were able to score 24 points in the third and we only scored 25 in the first half,” Connaway said. “I really love the way this group focuses at halftime in the locker room and we have always been able to make our adjustments and put up great third quarters all year. This quarter has been a huge key to our success this year.”
In the fourth quarter, the Indians pushed their lead to 14 with two minutes left before holding on late for the 65-56 to win the third place plaque.
Four Indians scored in double figures as the Indians’ ability to share the ball helped them in their success.
McMorris scored 17 points while Hodde scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half while adding six rebounds.
Christian had 13 points and seven rebounds; Connor scored all 10 of his points in the second half and had four rebounds; Caden Wilburn had seven points and five rebounds; and Trey Miller added two points.
Van-Far won the rebounding battle 33-24 and won second chance points 17-8.
Van-Far was also 15-for-28 from the free throw line in the loss.
Falling in semifinals
In the semifinals, Van-Far struggled in a physical game that didn’t go their way and were frustrated in a tough 60-50 loss to Louisiana.
“We weren’t really able to run our offense tonight; we had to react and make basketball plays,” Connaway noted. “We did a pretty good job of getting open looks, but we weren’t able to knock down the open jumpers.”
Foul trouble hurt Van-Far, as for example, Miller was only on the floor for four of the first 26 minutes in the game.
Turnovers and missed transition lay-ups led to Van-Far scoring less than 10 points in the first two quarters as Louisiana was up 26-16 at halftime.
The Indians responded with another solid third quarter paced by taking care of the basketball and transition baskets. Hodde also picked up a steal and his first career dunk to help the Indians outscore the Bulldogs, 19-11.
Trailing by two heading into the fourth quarter, unforced turnovers caused the Indians to go scoreless over the first four minutes.
Louisiana outscored Van-Far 23-15 in the fourth and won the game, 60-50.
The Bulldogs won the battle in the paint, 34-22.
Hodde led Van-Far with 11 points and four rebounds while Connor tallied 10 points and four rebounds. Miller had nine points; Christian tallied seven points and six rebounds; and Wilburn had six points.
North Callaway win
In the first round, the Indians battled a much-improved North Callaway squad and won a tough contest, 62-55.
While the defense held the Thunderbirds to just nine points in the first quarter, the Indians own offense couldn’t do any better with nine points of their own.
Connor gave the team a big spark off the bench in the second quarter with five of his nine points.
Van-Far had an eight point lead with two minutes left in the first half when North Callaway’s 10-0 run gave them a 26-24 lead at the break.
The Indians had a solid third quarter they won, 13-8. Christian hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter while McMorris made two 3-pointers and scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the final frame.
The Indians went on to win the game by seven.
McMorris had 24 points; Hodde added 12 points and seven rebounds; Connor had nine points; Miller had a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds; Christian scored five points and 12 rebounds; and Wilburn had two points.
The Indians made just 3-of-13 shots from the free throw line while they did shoot 53% from the field making 27-of-51 attempts.