The Van-Far Indians basketball team clinched back-to-back district championships last Friday night when they knocked off Elsberry, 40-22.
Van-Far made seven three-pointers in the win and finished the Class 2, District 5 Tournament with 19 from behind the perimeter.
“It was a total team win and we get to celebrate our second straight district title and our second year of knocking off the host school in the championship,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway.
Both offenses struggled early in the finals as they combined to score just 23 total points in the first half.
Van-Far’s defense was relentless as it helped to make big stops, allowing them to outscore Elsberry 10-4 in the third quarter.
The Indians were then able to kill some clock late and seal the game from the free throw line. They made 11-of-15 from the charity stripe in the win.
Caden Wilburn led Van-Far with 15 points and six rebounds; Verdell Johnson had nine points; Sam Middleton had six points; Trey Miller scored five points and nine rebounds; Colin Wilburn had three points; and Verlyn Johnson had two points and nine rebounds.
Van-Far also won the rebounding margin, 33-21.
“Tonight we came out focused and really executed our defensive game plan,” Connaway noted. “We were well prepared, knew their sets and knew how we wanted to defend them. The kids did an excellent job and really committed to defense for the entire night.”
In the semifinals, Van-Far outscored Paris by 11 points in the second half to cruise to a 71-53 victory.
After struggling early with a two point lead in the first quarter, the Indians put up 21 points in the second quarter for a seven point halftime lead.
Caden Wilburn gave his team a boost by knocking down a couple of big three-pointers.
Van-Far pushed the lead to almost 20 points in the fourth and never looked back in the big win. Miller dominated inside the paint and from behind the arc, scoring 26 points and adding nine rebounds.
Caden Wilburn had 12 points and five rebounds; Verlyn Johnson had 10 points and nine rebounds; Verdell Johnson added seven points; Middleton scored five points; Treyson Culwell and Rylee Hanson each had four points; Colin Wilburn scored two points; Aidan Lowrance had one point; and Dillion Minor brought down four rebounds.
Van-Far won the rebounding battle, 36-27.
After the tournament, Caden Wilburn, Verlyn Johnson, and Miller were each selected for the Class 2, District 5 team.
Van-Far will take on Milan in the state sectionals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27 in Hannibal. Van-Far knocked off the now undefeated Milan squad in last year’s state quarterfinals.