After struggling in the Palmyra Tournament one week earlier, the Van-Far Indians basketball team was hoping for a better showing in double-elimination tournament at nearby Bowling Green.
Unfortunately, the Indians were unable to win a trophy after being outscored 109-55 in losses to Elsberry and Clopton.
“Offensively, we have got to execute our sets better and be more fluent,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway. “We need to get a better feel for the game and be able to take what the defense gives us. I know we are a young group, but we are over halfway through the season and we need to start putting all the pieces in place if we want to make a run at districts.”
Van-Far gave top-seeded Elsberry all they could handle early in their first round game.
Nick Barnes hit a jumper with 2:46 left in the first half to keep the score at 15-14 as the Indians’ defense held Elsberry to 15 points in 13 minutes of basketball.
Unfortunately, Van-Far gave up several second chance points just before halftime and Van-
Far found itself trailing 22-14. Elsberry had made a 7-0 run.
“At half time we were pleased with our overall defensive effort, but we knew we made too many mistakes on the offensive end and in a game like this you can’t afford to score only four points in a quarter,” Connaway said.
Van-Far followed up a tough second by scoring just four points in both the third and fourth quarters.
“We have got to do a better job of being patient and not letting the other teams rattle us. Once we get rattled we start forcing and rushing shots,” Connaway said. “We have been struggling to score lately and when that happens our defense really needs to get better.”
Barnes led Van-Far with eight points while Sharrod Connor scored six points. Lucas Robinson, Woodrow Jackson, and John Gerdeman each scored two points.
Van-Far’s tournament came to an end in the consolation semifinals against EMO Conference foe Clopton in a 57-33 loss.
The Hawks took advantage of a 7-0 run and six turnovers to open up a 17-2 first quarter lead. Van-Far made just 1-of-10 shots from the field.
Connor scored the Indians’ first basket after nearly converting a 3-point play at the 2:52 mark.
“We were very flat in the first quarter and weren’t mentally ready to play,” Connaway said. “…Clopton’s half-court defense in the first quarter gave us fits and we couldn’t get into our offense.”
Van-Far’s players started to find their stride in the second quarter, making 5-of-8 shots from the field. Unfortunately, Clopton had a 13-0 run and led 30-13 at halftime.
The Indians started the third quarter on a 7-4 run behind Connor’s five points.
Barnes scored nine points in the quarter but Van-Far still trailed by 14.
Clopton put together a 12-0 run to open up a 27-point lead and never looked back. During that stretch, Van-Far was 0-for-8 from the field. Gerdeman also fouled out of the game.
Van-Far turned the ball over 16 times in the loss. They made 13-of-38 shots from the field.
Clopton turned the ball over just seven times and made 19-of-46 shots from the field. They were also 14-of-20 from the free throw line.
Barnes finished with a team-high 17 points, four rebounds, and three assists while Connor added 12 points, three assists, and one rebound. Gerdeman had two points, two rebounds, one block, and one steal; Michael Colson scored two points with one steal; Robinson had two rebounds, two steals, and one assist; Wyatt McDowell added three rebounds and two assists; and Woodrow Jackson had one block.
“We have got to have better mental focus, we are having too many break downs on defense and on offense,” Connaway added. “We didn’t block out and gave up too many second chance points and we didn’t stay in our “shell” principles and we gave up too many lay-ups.”