Van-Far head boys basketball coach Pat Connaway knew Sturgeon’s size was going to be a problem for his Indians in the first round of the Class 2, District 5 Tournament.
Though Van-Far ended the game by winning the rebounding battle 42-34, Sturgeon outscored the Indians 42-16 in the paint in a 71-53 victory.
“I was really pleased with our rebounding effort,” Connaway added.
“We outrebounded them tonight and had more offensive boards than them…Tonight we won the rebound battle, but lost the points in the paint by a significant margin again…We knew going into the game that Sturgeon was going to be a tough match-up for us, but size wise, we knew we matched up well. We talked about matching their intensity from the get go. Anytime you play the host school in district action you have to be ready not only for the team, but for the environment. We fully thought going in the winner of this game would have a great shot at playing for the district title on Saturday.”
The Bulldogs started the game on a 7-0 run and led 20-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Van-Far made a run early in the second quarter to cut the lead to two points before missing several point blank shots. Sturgeon took advantage and led by seven at halftime.
Sturgeon pushed the lead to 13 points in the third quarter and went up 16 in the fourth before holding on for the 18-point win.
Sharrod Connor led Van-Far with a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds.
“Sharrod played a great game and his offensive effort kept us in the game,” Connaway said.
“He did a great job of attacking the rim and finishing.”
Josh Hodde added 14 points; Nick Barnes had eight points and 14 rebounds; Wyatt McDowell scored four points and seven rebounds; both Lathyn McMorris and Trenton DeTienne had two points; while Parker Wallace scored one point.
The loss meant it was the final game for seniors Lucas Robinson and Cameron Perkins.
“Lucas played his last two years and did an excellent job for us,” Connaway said. “This year, with the lack of post players and being very guard loaded, he was asked to become a post player and he accepted that role. Lucas is a tremendous athlete and a great kid he will be missed next year. I wish and I think he wishes now that he would have played all four years. Kids don’t realize how much you miss when you sit out and I think Lucas realized that. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Cameron just moved in and this was his first year playing. Cameron is a great kid and everyone on the team saw the improvements he made as the season went on. His minutes increased the more he learned and the more he got comfortable with his best game being on Senior Night when he scored a career-high eight points. Cameron was always given the challenge of guarding the other teams best scorer and he always rose to the occasion. He is a great kid with a great attitude and he will be missed. I wish we would have had Cameron all four years. These two guys may not ever put the uniform on for us again, but they will always be a part of our family and will always be welcomed back!”
In reflecting on the season, Connaway was hoping for 10 wins with a young group. The Indians did finish with seven after a three game winning streak late in the season.
He said he’s looking for 14-15 wins next year with five of the team’s top six returning scorers coming back.
Connaway said he’s now looking forward to having players participate in a June shootout as well as pick a team for a team camp to work on team building skills.
He also looks forward to his team receiving benefits from Coach Blake Logan’s weight training program.