Van-Far head boys basketball coach Pat Connaway knew it was important for his team to exit this year’s Madison Tournament with a better response than it had in 2016.
Last year, the Indians went on a six game losing streak after the tournament.
The same didn’t happen this year as Van-Far outscored two opponents 147-98 for a pair of victories to improve their record to 8-3 overall and 4-0 in the EMO Conference.
Van-Far started the week with its only January home game against Elsberry and picked up a 74-52 conference victory.
The host Indians were clicking on all cylinders early as they scored 26 points in the first quarter while Elsberry added 23 of their own.
While Van-Far tightened up their defense in the second quarter, they were led by Lathyn McMorris offensively. He scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the first half to lead 45-35 at halftime.
“He came out and was stroking the jumper tonight, but that wasn’t all he did, he attacked the rim and pulled some big offensive boards as well,” Connaway said about McMorris.
In the second half, Van-Far outscored Elsberry 29-17 to win the game by 22 points. Van-Far’s defense gave up just 29 points in the final three quarters.
The host Indians made 30-of-56 shots from the field and six 3-pointers in the win. They also won the rebounding battle 36-24 and scored 46 of their points in the paint.
“I thought we responded well to the challenge tonight and we beat a really good Elsberry team that plays some big time competition,” Connaway said as he was proud of his team’s defensive effort. “… We had good balance and shared the ball well.”
McMorris finished the game with 23 points and five rebounds while Josh Hodde added 15 points.
Trey Miller tallied 15 points and eight rebounds; Caden Wilburn added 15 points and five rebounds; Brayden Christian scored four points; Treyson Culwell tallied four points and nine rebounds; Parker Wallace had three points; and Walter Salmon, Jr. added two points.
Knocking off South Shelby
Van-Far followed their big Monday night victory over Elsberry by dominating South Shelby on the road, 73-46.
“It was the second straight night that we have played really well and the entire team played together and really shared the ball; it was a total team victory,” Connaway said. “Any time you have four kids in double figures and one kid a field goal away, it’s a good night.”
Though the Indians were playing their fourth game in six days, Van-Far jumped out to a 14-7 first quarter lead and were up by 15 points at halftime.
In the second half, the Indians outscored South Shelby 38-26 to win the game by 27 points.
Hodde led the Indians by pushing the action and seeing the floor well to get an open man the ball for several easy baskets. He finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
McMorris couldn’t be guarded and attacked the rim for several layups in a 20-point effort.
Miller added a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds; Caden Wilburn was solid on both sides of the floor with 13 points and five rebounds; Christian tallied eight points and 10 rebounds; Daylan Chandler had three points; and Treyson Culwell added two points.
Van-Far shot 53% from the field and scored 44 points in the paint. They also had 21 points off turnovers.
“Treyson is getting healthy and is getting his conditioning up to game speed,” Connaway noted. “He has come off the bench to spell Brayden and Trey the last few games and has been really active pulling 13 boards in the last two games. He’s giving us a nice post rotation and he will continue to get better and better the more minutes he logs.”