The Van-Far Indians were unable to leave last week’s Palmyra Tournament with some hardware but they did pick up one victory in the tough event.
Their lone victory came against Mark Twain in the Consolation Semifinals in spite of being without guard Josh Hodde, who was sick.
Parker Wallace got the start, Caden Wilburn moved to point guard, and Lathyn McMorris stayed in the two spot, all moves that helped Van-Far execute the “next man up” mentality.
“Parker played a great defensive game and was very active,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway. “Caden did a solid job of running the point. He had an assist to turnover ration of 2:1.”
In the first half, the Indians’ defense struggled and gave up some open looks as Mark Twain was 12-of-17 from the field.
Fortunately, Brayden Christian and Trey Miller combined to scored 19 of Van-Far’s 30 first-half points. McMorris hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Indians a one-point edge at halftime.
“I think Lathyn’s buzzer beater must have not only ignited him, but the entire team,” Connaway said.
Colten Jensen made two big 3-pointers in the third quarter as Van-Far outscored Mark Twain 25-11 in the third quarter.
McMorris scored 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half while Van-Far’s defense held Mark Twain to just 17 points in the final two quarters for a 70-46 win.
Van-Far outscored Mark Twain 40-17 in the second half.
“All in all, it was a great team victory, everyone played and contributed in some fashion,” Connaway said.
“It’s nice to get a win, but it’s really nice to get a ‘W’ without one of your main pieces of your puzzle.”
McMorris had 29 points; Miller had 15 points and six rebounds; Christian added 13 points and nine rebounds; Jensen had six points; and Caden Wilburn added eight rebounds.
In the Consolation finals, Hodde returned but wasn’t at full strength.
Meanwhile, the offense struggled to handle Knox County’s defensive pressure and 21 turnovers off of bad passes led to a 67-50 loss.
“We were way too passive and didn’t attack them enough tonight,” Connaway said.
Van-Far did lead 10-4 at the end of the first quarter before Knox County took advantage of open shots in the second quarter to open up a 24-20 halftime lead. Knox County finished the game with 10 3-pointers.
“Defensively we were pretty good early and then we wore down,” Connaway said. “We couldn’t stay in front of them so then we would have to help and they kicked out to shooters and they made us pay…We’re not going to make any excuses about health issues or anything else. We just didn’t play well tonight and didn’t communicate among ourselves like we have been. I think we know if we see them in Districts we know we can not only play with them, but we can beat them and we’ll be better prepared for their pressure.”
Hodde led the team with 17 points; Miller had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds; McMorris added 14 points; Christian had five points and five rebounds; and Caden Wilburn had two points.
Van-Far made just 1-of-9 3-point shots in the loss.
In the first round, the Indians lost a heartbreaker to Canton, 67-65 in a well played game by both teams.
“I thought both teams competed at a very high level,” Connaway said. “For us it was a very disappointing loss, but it was also an eye opener for us letting us know we can compete with the best teams in the area.”
In the first quarter, the Indians built an early seven point lead before Canton took advantage of a poor offensive second quarter to cut the lead to two at halftime.
Trailing 30-29 at halftime, the Indians started pushing the tempo in the third quarter and outscored Canton 19-14 for a four-point edge.
With five minutes left, the Indians were up seven before the Bulldogs rallied to go up by one.
Hodde made a big 3-pointer late to tie the game at 63-63. He later made two free throws for a one point edge with :40 seconds left in the game.
Canton responded though with a 3-point play after a made basket and a free throw.
The Indians got a good look on a last second shot that rimmed out and didn’t fall for Van-Far.
“I was very pleased with our effort, Connaway said. “We executed on the offensive end very well all night. We got basically what we wanted when we wanted…Our bench was solid tonight and gave us key minutes in three of four quarters.”
McMorris made five 3-pointers and had 21 points; Hodde added 18 points and seven rebounds; Christian added a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds; Miller had nine points and nine rebounds; Caden Wilburn scored five points; and Treyson Culwell had two points.