Van-Far head boys basketball coach Pat Connaway’s Indians entered last week’s Madison Tournament with a goal of picking up two wins to leave with some hardware.
Not only did the Indians accomplish that goal, they also picked up a big win that could help their district seed at the end of the season after defeating Paris to win the Consolation Championship.
“I was really pleased with our focus on both sides of the ball and for the most part we really executed well tonight,” Connaway said.
“Tonight was a total team effort and a team victory. Everyone contributed quality minutes. Our freshman continue to grow and get better and better each day… It was nice to play with the lead the entire night and it was even nicer to see the kids get fouled late and knock down free throws. That is something we haven’t been able to do in the past… We need to build on this momentum and keep getting better and better each day.”
The Indians wasted little time attacking Paris as they opened the game with four straight 3-pointers.
Nick Barnes finished the first quarter with four 3-pointers and Josh Hodde added two more to help Van-Far take a 20-13 first quarter edge.
Paris rallied in the second quarter and cut the lead to three points.
Lathyn McMorris made a big 3-pointer and scored seven points to help the Indians go back up seven before halftime.
Van-Far made 7-of-15 3-point shots in the half.
“For the first time all year we got off to a fast start and knocked down four quick 3’s and that really set the tempo for the game,” Connaway said.
The trend reversed in the third quarter as Van-Far made just 1-of-9 3-point shots.
Hodde made the lone 3-pointer to push the lead back to six points.
“You are starting to see our freshman and older kids come together and play as a unit,” Connaway said.
“This was very apparent late in the third quarter when Paris deciding to go man and Nick noticed that Josh had a mismatch and told Josh to go get the ball and run our ‘Thumbs Down’ set. That shows me that we are coming together as a unit and the kids are starting to trust one another.”
Paris’ attempt at a comeback failed in the fourth quarter as they were hoping to make progress by putting Van-Far on the free throw line.
The Indians responded by making all 10 free throws, as Barnes made all six of his and finished the quarter with eight points.
Van-Far’s defense locked down the Coyotes in the final frame as Paris made just 1-of-15 shots from the field.
Barnes finished with 26 points as he was 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
He also had eight rebounds, three steals, and one assist.
Hodde had 14 points, two rebounds, and two assists; McMorris scored nine points with four rebounds, two steals, and two assists; Lucas Robinson had four points, two rebounds, one steal, and one assist; Brayden Christian had two points; Trenton DeTienne had one point, one assist, and one rebound; and Wyatt McDowell had two rebounds and two assists.
In the consolation semifinals, the Indians struggled early against the host Panthers as Madison made their first 3-pointers and eventually jumped out to a 17-6 lead.
The Indians responded in the second quarter with a 17-7 run to cut the lead to one point at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Indians closed out the frame with a 7-0 run in spite of having a junior and four freshmen on the floor.
Van-Far kept up the pressure in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 18 and never looked back in the 59-44 win.
“Our freshmen are really starting to step it up and contribute in the scoring column,” Connaway said.
“Lathyn played extremely well and led us in scoring and Josh was in double figures as well. It is really encouraging when your freshmen go for 32 points and your juniors go for 26. If we can continue to get that kind of balance we are going to be able to compete with a lot of teams.”
McMorris scored a game-high 18 points; Barnes had 17 points and eight rebounds; Hodde had 14 points and five rebounds; McDowell scored eight points with six rebounds; and both DeTienne and Robinson scored one point.
Loss to Community R-VI
Van-Far gave their rival a much better game than the first time the two teams played earlier in the season.
Van-Far’s offense missed a lot of open shots early but were still in the game. The Trojans led 13-9 at the end of the first quarter though they pushed things to 15 before taking a 10-point halftime lead.
The Indians’ defense held the Trojans to just four points in the third quarter as Van-Far cut the lead to just five points heading into the fourth quarter.
Van-Far trailed by just five points with a minute left but couldn’t complete the rally.
“A month a go they whipped us by 30 and tonight we were down five with a minute to go,” Connaway said.
“This game tonight shows how much we have improved and how much better we are getting. We’ve still got work to do, but we are definitely going the right way.”
Barnes scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while McMorris had six points and five assists.
Hodde had six points; Robinson had five points and seven rebounds; Robinson added five points and seven rebounds; and McDowell had four points.