In spite of an early season injury to one player and the need to overcome normal early season struggles, the first week of the regular season was a successful one for the Van-Far boys basketball team. They needed overtime to beat South Callaway by four and used a second quarter surge to knock off Louisiana by nine.
“We need to get healthy and continue to work,” said Van-Far head coach Pat Connaway. “We haven’t been sharp yet, but it is still very early and we’ll continue to work and I expect us to get better with more minutes we play. Our bench was already better after just one game. The first game allowed them to get their jitters out.”
In the opening night against South Callaway, the Indians built an 18-5 first quarter lead before the Bulldogs rallied as they took advantage of Van-Far foul trouble.
South Callaway cut the lead to just two points in the second quarter as two Van-Far players had three fouls. Brayden Christian paced the Indians with 11 points in the first half.
Coming out of the locker room with just a four-point lead, the Indians managed to open up a five-point edge in spite of Lathyn McMorris and Caden Wilburn each picking up their fourth fouls.
McMorris did score 10 of his game-high 29 points in the third.
In the final quarter, the Indians missed 2-of-3 free throws on the front end of one-and-ones. The Bulldogs tied the game with seven seconds left. McMorris’ final shot just missed to send the game into overtime tied at 70-70.
The defense stepped up in overtime as the Indians only allowed six points.
Van-Far sealed the win at the free throw line to win the game, 80-76.
“We were able to salt it away from the line to seal a season opening and home opening win,” Connaway said. “It was definitely a struggle and our starters weren’t out there much together tonight with all the foul trouble and having Caden and Lathyn both foul out and the other three starters had four fouls each…We played a great team game and Treyson (Culwell) and Colten (Jensen) stepped up and played big minutes for us.”
Josh Hodde nearly had a triple-double with nine points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists. He had just one turnover in the win.
“…If Josh continues to see the floor like he did tonight and get the ball where it needs to be all year long, we can be a really good ball club this year,” Connaway said.
McMorris had 29 points and four assists; Trey Miller had a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds; Christian had 12 points and six rebounds; and Culwell had four points and three assists; and Wilburn added four points and three assists.
Van-Far shot 50.9% from the field and made 18-of-31 free throws.
When Miller left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury, the Indians were losing the services of a player already with seven points and a couple of rebounds.
Fortunately, Christian stepped in and scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half for a 33-24 halftime edge. The Indians held off Louisiana in the final two quarters in the 61-52 victory.
Van-Far won the game in spite of making just 3-of-18 3-point shots.
“It was a great team victory and was nice to beat a solid team on their home floor,” Connaway said.
McMorris scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the final two quarters. He also had four rebounds.
Christian added a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds; Wilburn had eight points and four assists; Miller scored seven points; Hodde added five points and four assists; Culwell had four points; Johnson had one point; and Jensen added four rebounds.