The Van-Far Lady Indians basketball team is optimistic about the 2014-2015 season, one year removed from a 2-22 record.
They will have to overcome the loss of their second leading scorer Brooke Johnson to graduation as well as defensive specialist Haven Atkinson and starting point guard Ciara Craven, but several returners will be key to their success.
Abilene Gatson, Annaliese Hubert, and Breanna Strange are returning starters. Strange led Van-Far in rebounds, points, and free throw percentage last year while Gatson led in assists.
Hubert is expected to lead the offense due to her ability to see the court well.
Along with those three players, Kayelee Harrower joins a senior group expected to be the “heart of the team.”
“They have been playing for four years together and really help set the tempo for the rest of the team,” said Van-Far head coach Kelly Orf about her seniors.
Other key contributors include post player Renee Nelson and new starting point guard Jayda Borgmeyer.
“Offensively I am looking for a lot of ball movement, running our plays well, and getting good shots every time down the floor,” Orf said.
On defense, Orf said she is looking for her team to be aggressive and have a lot of communication.
“I know that the last few years the Van-Far Lady Indians basketball program has been struggling, but I have a very dedicated 15 girls and two coaches that have been putting in a lot of time, effort, and heart to change this program around,” Orf said. “We know that we may face teams with more talent than us but we will never be out hustled. We will push ourselves to improve with every practice and game and we will strive to give 100% each day.”
Orf’s assistant coach is Kylie Epperson.
The Lady Indians will play in the Field Jamboree on Friday night. They play their first game on the road against Western (Illinois) on Monday, December 1.
Van-Far boys to take next step in 2014-15
The Van-Far boys basketball team is entering the 2014-2015, one year after a disappointing 4-20 campaign.
They did lose some post presence to graduation with the losses of John Gerdeman and Kyle Decker.
Fortunately, the Indians have returning starters Nick Barnes, Wyatt McDowell, and Sharrod Connor.
Newcomers to play key roles include Josh Hodde, Lathyn McMorris, Parker Wallace, and Brayden Christian.
“Our expectations are very high,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway. “We are very young and only have two seniors, but we are very excited. We know we have a lot of issues to overcome, but we expect to see continuous improvement all year long. We know that December will have its ups and downs, as we are trying to blend in a lot of new guys and also learning to cope with our lack of size. Chemistry will be a big issue for us and some of our experienced guys learn how to play with the younger kids.”
Offensively, Connaway expects his team to be a better shooting team and a better ball handling team this year.
“With our lack of size we will look to spread the floor and try and create match-up problems for our opponents,” Connaway added.
On the defensive end, the Indians will use its athletic ability and quickness to overcome their lack of size.
“We will need to be quick and make sure we know our rotations and don’t have any break downs,” Connaway added. “We plan on playing a lot of full court man and will try and frustrate opponents and hopefully create a lot of turnovers that will result in a lot of easy baskets.”
Van-Far’s first varsity game is in Winfield at the Liberty Jamboree on Friday, November 21. They will play South Callaway on Tuesday, December 2 on the road.
Their first home game isn’t until Thursday, December 18 against Silex, though the freshman boys have a home game this Friday against Mark Twain.