It was another big week for the Van-Far boys basketball team.
Not only did they pick up their 20th win of the season, but in beating MMA, they clinched the rare Audrain County championship. The Colonels were the final team to go down in the county as Van-Far previously knocked off Class 4 Mexico and rival Community R-VI. The Indians overcame some poor free throw shooting after making 13-of-25 to beat MMA, 60-54.
“We were very sluggish tonight,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway. “I’m not sure if it was because it was an early start and we were to play before the JV or what. It just wasn’t our normal routine and we weren’t as sharp as we had been. MMA has several skilled players and they are very big so we knew we needed to get things going if we were going to be able to come up with a tough road win.”
Van-Far made some key shots in the first quarter to take an 18-11 lead though their defense wasn’t active in the zone.
Lathyn McMorris made two big 3-pointers in the quarter on assists from Josh Hodde.
MMA hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to keep the Indians lead to nine at halftime.
Though the Indians struggled at the free throw line, McMorris was key with several transitions baskets and a big 3-pointer.
Hodde’s layup with three minutes left in the game put Van-Far up 12.
MMA made three 3-pointers to cut the lead to five with :10 seconds left before Hodde sealed the game at the line.
McMorris led the Indians with 22 points and six rebounds; Treyson Culwell had 10 points; Hodde added nine points, seven assists, and four rebounds; Brayden Christian had eight points and seven rebounds; Trey Miller scored six points and four rebounds; Verlyn Johnson had three points; Colin Wilburn had two points; and Caden Wilburn had six assists and five rebounds.
In an EMO road contest against Wellsville, the Indians outscored the Tigers by 20 points in the second and third quarters to hold on for a 55-37 win.
The victory was Van-Far’s 20th on the season.
“I thought our offense executed very well and defensively we played about as good as we could,” Connaway said. “It was a very nice victory in an environment that is tough to play in. We reached the 20 win mark in the regular season for the first time in a long time and we have positioned ourselves to have a shot to win the conference.”
Wellsville did jump out to a 10-2 lead in the first quarter.
After a quick timeout, the Indians responded with pressure defense that forced several quick shots, allowing the Indians to get into the transition game.
Van-Far made a 31-14 run to take a nine-point lead into halftime.
The Indians’ defense only allowed four points in the third quarter as they outscored Wellsville, 15-4.
The Indians then held on late during a quick fourth quarter for the win. McMorris had 15 points and four assists; Miller added a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds; Caden Wilburn had seven points and four assists; Hodde tallied six points, five assists, and five rebounds; Colin Wilburn, Treyson Culwell, and Verlyn Johnson each scored four points; and Brayden Christian added three points and five rebounds.
Van-Far did make 15-of-24 free throws in the win.