The Van-Far Indians entered the final week of the regular season schedule needing two wins to clinch at least a share of the EMO Conference title, giving them top conference honors for the second year in a row.
Unfortunately, a much improved Wright City squad ruined the Indians’ hopes on Senior Night as Van-Far lost 68-62.
“We can sit here and make excuses about having a couple of kids under the weather and Colin sitting out with injury, but that isn’t what cost us the game,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway. “Tonight our defense wasn’t very good, free throw shooting wasn’t good, and our three-point shooting wasn’t good. Those are the things that cost us tonight.”
Wright City made seven of their 10 three-pointers for the game in the first half alone.
With Trey Miller picking up his third foul midway through the second quarter, the Wildcats took advantage with an 18-10 edge before halftime to go up 36-31.
Miller then picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
Wright City cruised from there as they were able to take advantage of the Indians missing 17 open three-pointers.
Add in 10 missed free throws and the Indians found themselves losing by six points.
The game was the final one at home for seniors Trey Miller, Caden Wilburn, Dillion Minor, Treyson Culwell, Riley Culwell, Verlyn Johnson, and Mel Troy.
“I want to thank our seniors for everything they have done for our program and all the hard work they have put in,” Connaway said. “…They are great kids on and off the floor. Tonight was their last home game, but we plan on playing several more games with these guys.”
Miller led the team with 19 points and 11 rebounds; Verdell Johnson had 13 points; Caden Wilburn had 13 points; Verlyn Johnson scored 10 points and seven rebounds; Treyson Culwell scored three points; Riley Culwell and Troy each had two points; and Sam Middleton added six rebounds.
Against Clopton, Miller scored his 1,000th career point with the first possession of the game.
In a physical contest, the Indians held on late for a 63-59 win over the Hawks on the road.
Van-Far led by one point at halftime. They pushed the lead to eight in the fourth quarter but missed six free throws in a row at one point in the fourth.
They made just 8-of-18 from the line late and only 15-of-31 free throws in the game.
The Hawks cut the lead to three points with under one minute left in the game before the defense picked up a couple of steals to seal the win.
The Indians enter the postseason with a 17-7 overall record and an 8-2 mark in the EMO Conference. Miller led the team with another double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds; Verdell Johnson had 10 points and six rebounds; Caden Wilburn had 10 points; Verlyn Johnson had six points; Minor had six points and six rebounds; Treyson Culwell added three points and five rebounds; while both Middleton and Colin Wilburn scored two points.