After starting the fourth quarter with a 48-44 lead, the Van-Far varsity boys' basketball team found themselves on the wrong side of a 23-17 run by Canton to get edged out 67-65 at the Palmyra Tournament on Tuesday.
"In the first quarter we got off to a quick start and built a seven-point lead, but Canton battled back to cut the lead to two," said coach Pat Connaway. "In the second quarter both teams struggled offensively. We missed several close buckets that we normally make. The game was very physical and I thought we adjusted well playing through a lot of contact. It was very disappointing to have a game played that style and to only attempt one free throw in the first half."
While the Indians were down 30-29 at halftime, that's because they were outscored 12-9 in the second. Van-Far then shifted the momentum to go up by four after claiming the third 19-14.
"At half we talked about making a few defensive adjustments and to keep pushing the tempo," said Connaway. "In the third quarter we were able to push the tempo and build a four point lead heading to the fourth. We stretched our lead to seven with five minutes to go and Canton rallied back to take a one point lead. After exchanging buckets they scored and went up 63-60 with under two minutes to go and Josh Hodde came down and drilled a huge three-pointer to tie the game at 63."
Topping the charts for the Indians was Lathyn McMorris with 21 points, Hodde scored 18 with seven rebounds and Brayden Christian had 10 points and 11 boards. Trey Miller also posted nine points and nine rebounds, Caden Wilburn gave a five-point performance and Tresyon Culwell scored two.
"They made 1-of-2 free throws and took a one point lead and the next possession Josh attacked the rim and got fouled. He made both free throws and we went up one with 40 seconds left," Connaway said. "Canton then came down and made a bucket and a free throw for a three point play. We ran one of our sets that got us a great look at the top of the key and it rimmed out. We fouled them with 11 seconds to go and they missed the front end of the one-and-one."
For the game Van-Far went 23-of-64 from the floor and 12-of-13 from the free throw line with 31 rebounds and 32 points in the paint. Canton, on the other hand, connected on 26-of-53 field goals and 11-of-13 free throws with 36 rebounds and 40 points in the paint. Canton and the Indians also had 15 and eight turnovers, respectively.
"We pushed the ball down the floor and got a great look at the key for the win and it rimmed out. We really executed both sets well and got a great look. Unfortunately, it didn't fall," said Connaway. "Lathyn knocked down five-three's and was great all night on both ends. He pressured their point guard and created turnovers. Josh was huge. He knocked down all of his free throws, pushed the ball up the floor, hit some big shots, grabbed a few huge boards and guarded their best player down the stretch."
Van-Far next takes the floor in the championship game of this tourney against Mark Twain.