Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway was hoping his Indians could get on a roll just two weeks away from this year’s district tournament.
His team responded by winning two games last week and moving their streak to three in a row after knocking off both Wellsville-Middletown and the Missouri Military Academy (MMA).
Van-Far has won five of their last six games and pushed its record back to .500 at 11-11.
“We’re starting to play our best basketball right now and this is the time we want to start peaking,” Connaway said. “You always want to be playing your best basketball heading into districts and right now I think that is what we are doing.”
Van-Far started the week with a late rally to knock off Wellsville-Middletown, 65-60.
“Coming into here and beating a quality team like them on their home floor is definitely a confidence booster,” Connaway said. “They are a very quick team and we had a hard time staying in front of them and had trouble keeping them out of the lane.”
Nick Barnes led the Indians in the first half as he made 5-of-6 3-pointers and scored 22 of his career- and game-high 30 points.
Barnes’ shooting was key as the team didn’t have Josh Hodde for much of the half as he had three fouls.
Both teams entered halftime tied at 32-32 before the Tigers began to pull away in the third quarter.
Turnovers helped the Tigers take a seven point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Lathyn McMorris responded though as he made some big shots and actually scored 14 of his 17 points in the final two quarters.
McMorris and Barnes sealed the win from the free throw line as the Indians outscored the Tigers 23-11 in the fourth quarter.
“It was a great game and a total team victory,” Connaway said. “Everyone contributed and played their hearts out…”
Van-Far made 10-of-22 3-point shots in the win though they lost the battle in the paint, 30-18.
The Indians also made 17-of-23 free throws.
Barnes scored 30 points and six rebounds while McMorris added 17 points and five rebounds. Brayden Christian added 10 points and seven rebounds. Wyatt McDowell pulled down five rebounds.
Cruising past MMA
Van-Far started their game against MMA on a 10-0 run and added a 17-0 run between the second and third quarters to knock off the MMA Colonels, 65-39.
“Our pressure was the difference tonight,” Connaway said about his team that had 14 assists to just 13 turnovers. “We were able to speed them up and force bad passes and quick shots. This allowed us to get out in the open floor and get easy baskets in transition. I thought tonight we saw the floor the best we have all year…I was pleased with the way we saw the floor and was very pleased with our unselfishness.”
In the first quarter, Hodde made two 3-pointers during a 10-0 run to start the game.
MMA responded early in the second quarter with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to seven but that was the closest they would get for the rest of the night.
Barnes scored seven points and Christian had six points in the second quarter as the Indians started a 17-0 run before halftime for a 40-13 lead.
“It was nice being able to take a 27-point lead into the locker room at half,” Connaway said. “We were able to rest several starters and play everyone a lot of minutes tonight.”
The run reached 17 straight points early in the third quarter. Barnes scored six points in the third as Van-Far led by 30. He did leave the game briefly after over-extending his leg on a missed layup but he did return.
In the fourth quarter, MMA’s starters did put together a 10-0 run against mostly bench players but the Indians still cruised to the 26-point win.
Van-Far made just 5-of-20 3-point shots in the win and outscored the Colonels 38-26 in the paint. They also outrebounded MMA, 47-32.
Hodde finished with a game-high 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals while Barnes added 13 points, eight rebounds, six steals, and four assists.
McMorris added 10 points, five steals, three assists, and three rebounds; Christian had eight points, nine rebounds, and two assists; McDowell added seven points, five rebounds, and one steal; Caden Wilburn had six points and two rebounds; Trenton DeTienne had two points and four rebounds; Parker Wallace dropped in two points and added two rebounds; Dillion Minor had two points and three rebounds; and Walter Salmon, Jr. added one rebound.