Van-Far head boys basketball coach Pat Connaway knew the odds were stacked against his team in the first round of the Class 2, District 5 tournament as his Indians drew the top seed and state-ranked Canton.
Not only did they have a tough matchup but they were playing without starting guard Wyatt McDowell, who was forced to miss due to an illness. Canton jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game and never looked back in a 72-47 victory. Though the Indians lost a tough game, Connaway was pleased with how his team played.
“We didn’t quit and we actually played pretty well tonight,” Connaway said. “I think this game will be a great learning lesson for our kids and will also give us confidence down the road. We showed at times that we can play with them now we just need to do it consistently and do it for an entire game. I was very pleased with our effort tonight, we showed up and we played hard.”
Van-Far trailed by two points early in the first quarter before Canton began beating the Indians on the offensive glass to score several second chance points. The Bulldogs led 41-22 at halftime before outscoring the Indians 31-25 in the second half to hold on for the 25-point victory.
Nick Barnes scored a team-high 18 points and five rebounds; John Gerdeman added 12 points and eight rebounds; Kyle Decker had six points and nine rebounds; both Sharrod Connor and Lucas Robison added four points; and Woodrow Jackson scored three points. Connaway said this season was a good one for his younger team gaining experience.
“Anytime you start two sophomores and a freshman in your back court you are going to go through some growing pains, but the experience these three got this year will help us in the years to come,” he added. “We also have a talented group coming that will be freshman next year that will help push all of our returning players to get better… This season was full of ups and downs and as a coach you always hate for the season to come to an end. This year our young kids learned a lot about the game and what it takes to compete at this level. Two of our many goals as coaches is to make sure that each individual kid gets better from day one and that the team improves and is playing its’ best basketball at the end of the year. I feel that we accomplished both of those goals. We really started playing well these past two weeks and it started with a big win over Bowling Green and was followed up by several close losses. I think we have started to turn the corner and with hard work and dedication our future with these great young kids is bright.”
The game was the final one played by Van-Far seniors Woodrow Jackson, John Gerdeman, and Kyle Decker.
“We will graduate three seniors who are great kids and will be sorely missed,” Connaway said. “I wish all three of them the best of luck in all of their future endeavors and I want all of them to know that they are and always will be part of our Van-Far family.”