Just one week after dropping a tough home game to Louisiana, the Van-Far 8th grade boys basketball team avenged the loss with an exciting double overtime victory in the championship game of the Mark Twain Tournament.
The Indians rallied from a seven point halftime deficit, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at the end of regulation, and survived the first OT before winning the game, 54-48.
“They never stopped fighting and never stopped believing in each other,” said Van-Far head coach Joe Basinger.
“…I didn’t have to motivate them too much (after the earlier loss). They were really ready to go coming into the game and we knew what we needed to do.”
Basinger said he was grateful for the large amount of Van-Far fans who made the trip to Center to cheer on the Indians.
“It was like a home game,” Basinger added. ‘It was really loud. It was a great atmosphere.”
Early in the game, Trey Miller was in foul trouble and had to sit the rest of the first half.
Louisiana’s Derek Richards, who scored 29 points in the first meeting, helped the Bulldogs with several points in the half. Louisiana hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to take a seven point lead.
“That could have been a backbreaker,” Basinger added.
Miller re-entered the game in the third quarter and scored four points early. Meanwhile, the Indians’ defense held Louisiana to just three points in the quarter to close the gap to four points.
Treyson Culwell hit a 3-pointer on transition in the final :30 seconds of the fourth to tie things at 40.
In the first overtime, the Indians led by three with four seconds left when Richards hit a step back, fade away 3-pointer that banked in.
In the second OT, the Indians outscored the Bulldogs 8-2 for the six point win.
Miller finished with 21 points, Treyson Culwell had 14 points, Caden Wilburn scored 12 points, Dillion Minor added four points, and Logan Wilson had three points.
In the semifinals, the Indians jumped out to a 14-10 first quarter edge on Palmyra before going up 23-17 at halftime.
Van-Far outscored the Panthers 23-5 in the second half for a 46-22 victory.
“Palmyra struggled against our half court defense,” Basinger said.
Miller scored a team-high 24 points while Treyson Culwell had 12, Wilburn scored six, and both Riley Culwell and Minor had two points.
In game one, the Indians were sluggish early against Canton as it was their first game after the Thanksgiving break.
They made just 2-of-13 free throws but still managed to take an 18-9 lead into halftime.
The Indians extended the lead to 12 before rolling to a 40-23 victory.
Van-Far made 6-of-9 free throws in the second half.
“We talked about attacking the zone at halftime and the kids did that,” Basinger said.
Miller had 12 points, Treyson Culwell added 11, both Wilburn and Wilson scored six, Riley Culwell scored three, and Minor added two.
Van-Far’s 7th grade boys basketball team continued to look impressive with a 48-21 road win over Silex.
“I thought the kids handled the trap pretty well,” Basinger said.
Basinger said his team’s defense caused a lot of “fits” for Silex’s ball handlers.
Colin Wilburn scored a team-high 17 points. Rylee Hanson had eight points, Verdell Johnson scored six, Sam Middleton had seven, both Matthew Dunn and Trevor Lower had four points, and Morgan Slatten scored two.
On Saturday, the Indians knocked off a solid Montgomery County team, 40-36.
Van-Far led 20-15 at halftime and were tied at 27 entering the fourth before winning the game by four points. The Indians made 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth while Middleton made all eight of his in the game and hit six in the final frame.
Van-Far made their final four free throws in the final minute.
Basinger said his players did a good job executing the pick and roll.
“This was a really good game for us,” Basinger said. “I thought our kids played really well, especially playing the night before.”
Middleton led the Indians with 16 points. Johnson scored seven points, Hanson had eight points, Colin Wilburn scored six points, and Trevor Lower added three points.
The Van-Far Junior High girls basketball team celebrated the progress the program has made this season with a second place finish in the always tough Mark Twain Tournament.
Van-Far knocked off Canton and Palmyra before falling in the championship game to Highland.
“I’m proud of these group of girls for their performance in this tournament,” said Van-Far head Junior High girls basketball coach Allison Allgood.
“We beat some really great teams to make it to this final…We are a small team size wise with not a lot of experience so for us to pick up second in this tournament is a huge accomplishment. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season.”
In the first round, the Lady Indians made some big shots throughout the game.
Van-Far trailed 11-10 early before their defense helped the offense get going to take an 18-11 halftime lead.
Canton started the third quarter with an 8-0 run to regain the lead.
The Lady Indians made 3-of-6 free throws late and held on for a 28-27 victory.
“I’m very proud of these group of girls for never giving up,” Allgood said. “We made some mistakes but made a lot of better choices in the end.”
Jayle Jennings scored 14 points with six assists. Jordan Garner tallied eight points and eight rebounds. Alivia Graddy added six points and 10 rebounds.
In the semifinals, Van-Far had to battle the size of a Palmyra post player.
The Lady Indians’ defense helped to pace Van-Far to a 17-10 halftime edge.
Palmyra made a 6-0 run in the third quarter and it appeared foul trouble might catch up to Van-Far late. Fortunately, the Lady Panthers were having the same problem.
Van-Far’s pressure forced several turnovers and the Lady Indians went on to win 31-28.
“I’m very proud of my 7th graders for stepping up and playing tough defense when needed,” Allgood said.
Jennings had 18 points and two steals while Graddy tallied seven points and seven rebounds.
In the championship game, the Lady Indians struggled with Highland’s size.
Highland led 21-3 at halftime. Van-Far scored 15 points in the fourth quarter but lost 40-22.
Jennings and Garner both scored nine points in the loss.