The Van-Far Indians basketball team picked up a big road win last week when it traveled to South Shelby and left with a 52-50 victory.
“Tonight was a hard fought win and hopefully is a huge confidence builder,” said Van-Far head boys basketball coach Pat Connaway. “…We learned a lot during this game and to be able to sneak out of there with a road win is great for us. I am really proud of our no quit mentality.”
It appeared early that South Shelby was going to cruise to an easy win as they jumped out to a 16-6 first quarter lead.
After the coaching staff challenged the team, the Indians got after it and began forcing turnovers.
The Indians outscored South Shelby 17-2 to take a 23-18 halftime edge.
“Anytime you can hold an opponent to two points in a quarter, you are working hard,” Connaway said.
During the quarter, Cameron Perkins came off the bench and held South Shelby’s All-District player Austin Durbin scoreless for the last five minutes.
In the third quarter, the Indians struggled offensively while South Shelby scored 23 points for a 41-35 lead.
Down by eight points with 3:40 remaining in the game, Wyatt McDowell hit a big 3-pointer. After a South Shelby free throw, Lathyn McMorris hit a 3-pointer to knock the lead down to 50-47 with 1:30 left to play.
After Nick Barnes forced a turnover, Josh Hodde hit a 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining.
McMorris made a contested layup with three seconds left on the clock for a 52-50 lead. McDowell then stole the inbounds pass to secure the win.
Barnes had 14 points and seven rebounds while McMorris scored 10 points. Hodde added nine points; Brayden Christian added eight points; McDowell scored seven points with eight rebounds; and Lucas Robinson had six rebounds.
With a previous win over Paris, the win over South Shelby might help the Indians get as high as a No. 6 seed in districts.
Loss to Elsberry
On Monday, Van-Far lost a tough home game with Elsberry, 57-48.
Van-Far shot only 29.5% from the field and were outrebounded 41-23 in the nine point loss.
“Tonight, we let one slip away from us,” Connaway said. “We had a great crowd and we just couldn’t knock down shots.”
Van-Far’s defense did hold Elsberry to just 19 points in the first half and trailed 20-19 at halftime.
In the second half, Elsberry turned things around by outscoring Van-Far 38-28 in the second half to hold on for the win.
“We have got to do a better job of keeping up the defensive pressure and when we are struggling to score, we need to let our defense create our offense,” Connaway said.
Van-Far was outscored in the paint, 36-14.
Hodde scored 15 points and seven rebounds while McMorris also had 15 points. Barnes tallied 11 points and six rebounds.
Loss to rival
The Indians finished up their week with a 55-41 loss to rival Bowling Green on the road.
Van-Far stunned the home Bobcats crowd early by taking a 15-13 first quarter lead.
“Tonight, I loved our mentality and our body language at the opening tip,” Connaway said. “We told the boys to come out tonight and act and show that we belong…The entire first half is, without a doubt, our most solid all year long.”
Van-Far handled Bowling Green’s full court pressure early and led by one at halftime.
Bowling Green took advantage of Van-Far’s cold shooting in the third quarter and outscored the Indians 17-2 to take control of the game before holding on for the 14-point win.
Connaway noted some of his team’s better play is coming in spite of Sharrod Connor being out of the lineup with an injury.
His absence has given freshmen McMorris and Hodde more playing time, allowing them to gain confidence. The injury has also helped McDowell as well.
“Now when we get Boomer back this week, we will have another weapon in the mix,” Connaway said. “I definitely feel we are getting better and are starting to come together.”
Barnes led the Indians with 12 points and six rebounds while McMorris tallied seven points and three rebounds. McDowell had eight points and Hodde scored seven points.
Van-Far shot 41% from the field but were outscored in the paint, 48-14.