By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 12/7/22

Boys basketball

Van-Far runs out of time, falls short 58-52 to state-ranked Salisbury

The Van-Far boys wanted more time Tuesday night.

That’s how close the Indians were possibly to …

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Boys basketball

Van-Far runs out of time, falls short 58-52 to state-ranked Salisbury

The Van-Far boys wanted more time Tuesday night.

That’s how close the Indians were possibly to upsetting the second-best team in Class 2 Salisbury in the first round of the Centralia Invitational Tournament. Van-Far lost 58-52 despite cutting the deficit to as low as four points after beginning the fourth quarter down by 17.

The final minutes were exciting after Cody Smith knocked down a couple 3-pointers as part of his eight points and Nikos Connaway scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, bringing Van-Far’s deficit down to 53-49 with just less than a minute to go. However, head coach Pat Connaway thought he should have trusted his players more to play their brand of defense sooner than the fourth quarter.

“We made too many mistakes early,” Connaway said. “I didn’t trust our guys. I changed our style of play because of who they are. We went back to our full-court man, got back to who we are and we started having success — getting steals, get out in the open floor and get easy buckets.”

Salisbury (2-2) was ahead 47-30 after the third quarter, but its lead was gradually chipped away after Van-Far’s timeout within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. The Indians (2-2) didn’t give the Panthers much room to breathe, which allowed the Indians room to breathe in the open court.

Connaway scored on a coast-to-coast layup and then Smith shot his hand to the ball to pick up the steal and score off the turnover. The deficit shrank to 10 at 51-41 with 3:23 remaining after Connaway nailed a 3-pointer and made a layup through two defenders.

Connaway picked up a couple more steals to add to his total of four and team-high seven rebounds, Gage Gibson was found for an open layup to top off his eight points and Smith showcased lockdown defense until he was forced to foul out of the game in the final minute.

“Cody played well,” Connaway said. “He can do that because he brings so much energy. He’s quick, he can knock down a shot and he can get to the rim. 

“It was a really big fourth quarter (for him), and we needed some of that. Gage played solid, but we’ve got to have one or two more scorers to go along with Nikos. Cody doing that, Carter (Jennings) can do it, Brayden (Lay) can do it, Pacey (Reading) can do it, and so can Gage. It’s just getting them there.”

Van-Far plays Hallsville (2-1), who lost to Boonville 62-57 on Tuesday night, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the consolation bracket.

Centralia pressed into 60-41 loss to Macon

The Centralia boys will be seeing this defense again.

The Panthers lost to Clarence Cannon Conference foe Macon 60-41 after being outscored 27-8 in the second quarter in the first round of the Centralia Invitational Tournament. The Tigers tallied 14 steals and kept the pressure on to ultimately force Centralia in a season-low scoring total.

After taking a 12-7 lead after the first quarter, Macon (4-0) used a trap defense that induced the Panthers (2-2) into throwing passes straight into the awaiting hands of a defender, who didn’t take long to either become a scorer on the other end or make the pass to the scorer. Head coach Scott Humphrey said it is difficult to prepare for that type of defense when Macon is able to install the athletic and long players it has on its roster.

“You can’t imitate what they are in practice,” Humphrey said. “You’ve just got to get out there (in a game). They came out in the second quarter and slapped the press on us that we talked about, but it was bigger, faster and stronger than what we could replicate.” 

Hayden Lovingier led Macon and all scorers with 17 points and finished with five steals, Boston Douglas — who also had eight rebounds — and Mykel Linear each followed with 11 points, Caleb Reger had seven points and six rebounds and Logan Petre scored eight points and hit two 3-pointers off the bench. 

For Centralia, Cullen Bennett led with 13 points and five rebounds to make him the only Panther to finish scoring in double figures. In the second half, Bennett scored 10 of his points and pulled down most of his rebounds, seemingly gaining a second wind to try to give Centralia a second life in the game. Humphrey said that while it wasn’t enough, he is proud of the determination Bennett and others showed.

“Cullen’s got a lot on him,” Humphrey said. “He’s having to do a lot for us. He’s big and strong, he’s handling the ball, and we’re giving the ball around the block. I thought Jack Romine played well and also Benji Chick. Those guys kept us in it.”

Noah Kropf followed with seven points but had all those points in the first quarter, Austin Orth had five points in the fourth quarter, and Chick and Romine each scored four points.

Centralia has North Callaway (1-2), who lost to Harrisburg 74-58 on Tuesday, to look forward to at 9 p.m. Thursday in the consolation bracket.

North Callaway bested by high-octane Harrisburg offense, loses 74-58

The North Callaway boys were coming off a strong defensive game Dec. 2 at Silex but were pushed to the limit Tuesday night.

The Thunderbirds lost 74-58 to Harrisburg (3-1) in the first round of the Centralia Invitational Tournament after the offense that was averaging 71 points prior to Tuesday let loose. The Bulldogs had five score in double figures and two snag double-digit rebounds, and combined for six 3-pointers.

Brayden Ott knocked down four of the 3-pointers to lead Harrisburg with 23 points, and Braden Wyatt and Hunter Cole each pulled down 11 rebounds. Wyatt finished with a double-double after scoring 10 points while also blocking three shots. Hayven Samuels followed Ott’s scoring total with 15 points.

Head coach Matt Miller said he knew the Thunderbirds (1-2) had a tough test in Harrisburg but like how his players competed, cutting the deficit to as low as eight points in the second half. 

“They can score the ball,” Miller said. “I told the guys, ‘They can put 80 on you. If they put 80 on you, you’re probably not going to win the game.’ They shoot the ball well, spread you out and get downhill.”

Sam Pezold shouldered the scoring for North Callaway in the third quarter, tallying 10 of his team-high 19 points. He drained two of his four 3-pointers in the quarter, but ultimately, the Thunderbirds didn’t have another reach double figures. Jordan Fishburn finished with eight points and two 3-pointers, and Trenton Jones, Isiah Craighead and Gavin Rasmussen each scored six points, while combining for 26 rebounds.

Jones had the majority of those boards as he finished with 16 while battling Wyatt, Cole and Trace Combs — who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds — all night. Miller said his assistant coaches, Andrew Klein and Joseph Mueller, has done a nice job working with Jones to prepare him for high-contact nights like Tuesday.

“Sometimes, (Jones) is kind of passive in there, but our assistant coach has done good job working with him and getting him to be aggressive on both ends of the floor,” Miller said. ‘“Every rebound is yours. I don’t care about the fouls. Every rebound is yours, and go be more aggressive.’ He’s really taken ownership of that.”

Bulldogs breeze to 73-32 conference win at Marshall

The Mexico boys put the loss to one conference opponent behind them with the decisive victory over another.

The Bulldogs coasted to a 73-32 win in their North Central Missouri Conference opener on Tuesday night in Marshall (0-4, 0-1 NCMC). Mexico (4-1, 1-0 NCMC) finished with 25 points in transition and 20 points off turnovers thanks to 12 steals and shot 52 percent from the field.

Jordan Shelton led with 22 points, five rebounds and three steals, Jaydon Eldridge followed with 14 points, five rebounds and was 4-for-6 on 3-pointers, and DJ Long had 10 points, four assists and four steals.

The Bulldogs took a 32-4 lead after one quarter, a 49-9 lead at halftime, and a 66-23 advantage after the third quarter.

Mexico plays Class 3 No. 3 Strafford (3-0) at 10 p.m. Saturday in Springfield for the 48 Hours of Basketball Springfield event.

Trojans work on things in decisive 57-22 win at Madison

The Community R-6 boys’ conference opener went so well Tuesday night that they were able to fine-tune some things.

The Trojans won 57-22 at Madison (0-1 CAC), having three score in double figures before the team’s bench players put in some valuable work.

Mason Carroll led with 15 points, Eli Johnson followed with 14 points and Gavin Allen had 10 points.

Head coach Tad Shotten said being smart with the basketball will be important against Community’s next conference foe Slater (3-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday night and will be in the future. They were able to work on those things, and players such as Grant Cope, Clayton Jennings and Drake Welch played well for the Trojans (2-2, 1-0 CAC).

"I think we did some nice things, we are still working on shot selection,” Shotten said. “It was a good opportunity for some of our guys who don't get a lot of minutes to get some time and work on some things.”

Missouri Military Academy deals with sickness, lose 61-42 at Calvary Lutheran

Missouri Military Academy didn’t have a full roster Tuesday night in Jefferson City.

The Colonels were without several players, including starters 6-foot-2 Tsengeg Bayasgalan and Lucas Almeida, and lost 61-42 to Calvary Lutheran.

Albert Ogutu led with 16 points, Kellan Mugisha followed with 13 points and Nathan Dempsey had 10 points. 

MMA (2-3) came as close as 10 points in the final quarter before Calvary Lutheran (4-0) pulled away.

Girls basketball

Mexico girls come back to win 52-49 at Marshall

The Mexico girls first conference win of the 2022-23 season had much excitement.

The Lady Bulldogs trailed 39-28 going into the fourth quarter Tuesday night in Marshall but rallied to win their North Central Missouri Conference opener 52-49.

Head coach Ed Costley said Mexico (2-4, 1-0 NCMC) was down by as much as 17 points in the game and trailed the Lady Owls (3-3, 0-1 NCMC) by 12 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Kenley Jones sinking a jumpshot with less than three minutes left gave Mexico the lead and eventually the victory. Costley said Messiah Simpson and Kenzie Taylor made big plays inside to secure the win.

Claire Hudson led Mexico with 19 points and seven rebounds, Simpson followed with six points and four rebounds, and Taylor had six points. Lexie Willer had a team-high four assists. Hudson hit five 3-pointers and scored 12 of her points in the fourth quarter.

Mexico plays Class 5 Hillcrest (2-4) at noon Sunday in Springfield for the 48 Hours of Basketball Springfield event.

Community R-6 girls get used to gym, defeat Madison 53-11

The Community R-6 girls hope to be playing this well in Madison’s gym when districts roll around.

The Lady Trojans rolled to a 53-11 victory Tuesday at their Central Activities Conference opponent, taking a 35-6 lead after halftime. Madison (0-2 CAC) is also a Class 1 District 10 opponent of Community (5-0, 1-0 CAC) and will be hosting that tournament in February.

Sarah Angel led with 14 points, Olivia Kuda followed with 10 points, and Kayla Jett, Alyssa Beamer and Kylie Brooks each had eight points.

“We managed to get all 15 girls some action with eight scoring in the contest,” head coach Bob Curtis said. A great first quarter led to us being able to work on some different defensive and offensive schemes during the second half.”

Community plays another conference foe Slater (0-5) at 6 p.m. Friday.

Look for the full stories on The Mexico Ledger website on the Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022.


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