Though the Van-Far Indians entered last week’s Palmyra Tournament with the intentions of playing on the winner’s side of the bracket, head coach Pat Connaway was very pleased with how his team responded from a disappointing first round performance against district foe Canton.
Van-Far lost their first-round match-up by 31 points after a sluggish defensive effort.
Fortunately, Connaway’s squad answered by outscoring their next two opponents 121-52 behind solid defensive play to win the Consolation title.
“Winning consolation in the tourney wasn’t our original goal, but after the way we played Monday and seeing the way we played the next two games, I couldn’t be more pleased with where we are right now,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway.
“We’re sitting at 13-3 and the boys seemed re-focused, re-committed, and hungry. If we keep playing defense the way we did the past two nights, we are going to be a pretty good team and be a tough out in district play. Right now, the attention is on the defensive end and we are starting to understand things. And if we keep getting better at it, we’ll continue to have success. This nine game stretch without Lathyn (McMorris) has really made us an all-around better team. And when we get him back healthy, hopefully sometime during the Bowling Green tourney this week, will only make us better. We are a much deeper team now than we were in December.”
In the Consolation finals, the Indians jumped out to a 16-3 first quarter lead against a Knox County that recently knocked off Louisiana in OT.
The defense continued to be strong in the second quarter, holding Knox County to just five points to go up 21 at halftime.
Van-Far then held Knox County to just 13 points in the second half to win the game, 49-21.
Van-Far’s guards fed the Indians’ post players as the offense scored 36 of their 49 points in the paint.
Van-Far made 21-of-43 shots from the field in the win.
Josh Hodde scored a team-high 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
Verlyn Johnson added eight points; Caden Wilburn scored eight points; Trey Miller had four points and seven rebounds; Dillion Minor added four points; and Brayden Christian added two points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
Knox County is also in Van-Far’s district.
In the Consolation Semifinals, Hodde’s steal and dunk was part of a dominating first half for the Indians as they were up 42-16 at halftime over Highland.
Connaway didn’t want his players to let up in the final two quarters and his players responded.
They outscored Highland 25-11 in the third quarter and were up 67-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the third quarter, Caden Wilburn did have three 3-pointers while Christian scored 10 of his 16 points in the frame.
With the mercy clock running, the Indians held on to win the game, 72-31.
In the first round, the Indians led Canton 14-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Unfortunately, Canton responded with an 18-11 second quarter to take a five-point edge at halftime.
Van-Far’s offense struggled in the second half while their defense was nowhere to be found as they were outscored 41-15 to lose the game, 71-40.
Van-Far had just one attempt at a transition basket in the loss while Canton dominated the game with mid-range jump shots and solid effort on the boards.
Caden Wilburn led the Indians with nine points and four rebounds; Hodde had eight points and four assists; Colin Wilburn scored eight points; Johnson had six points; and Miller added six points.