The People's Tribune

Indians Clinch Semifinal Victory Over Mid-Buchanan

“They’re resilient. They won’t quit. We don’t give up.”

He added later that he and Assistant Coach Brett Reading had a good feeling after the third quarter despite being outscored by Hayti 12-10 in that frame. He noted that they urged the boys to keep their heads in it. He said the big boards and stops by Miller and Johnson were big things to rally around.

When talking about the final Van-Far basket, Connaway joked that Miller is “the biggest bully in the yard” and added, “he just put his head down like a bull and got to the rim.”

Connaway added that he was so proud of every kid on the team and the “wizard with the pen” describing Reading. He noted this team has been working together since grade school and they just don’t quit.

Miller said winning the championship was an undescribable experience. He recounted his final basket to seal the win.

“I got the ball, did a little spin and nobody was there,” he said. “I just took it up and scored.”

He observed that all the hard work in the gym over the summer and throughout the season paid off.

The Trib asked Verlyn Johnson about coming off the bench and coming up with blocks early to stifle the Hayti momentum.

“It felt better when I heard all the noise and screams.”

He added that he’d have to watch the film later to see how it all happened.

“This makes all of us proud to be Indians and we’re happy.”

Senior Josh Hodde was also quick to point to Johnson’s minutes as game-changing.

“He came in and set the table for all of us.”

Senior Brayden Christian has shared minutes with Johnson in the postseason.

“It’s never been a question about who scores more, who gets the most rebounds. Nobody cares about that,” he asserted. “We just all really care about winning. We achieved the ultimate goal.”

Hodde echoed Christian’s sentiments.

“This is a whole team thing,” he remarked. “We’ve really come together as a family.”

Caden Wilburn pointed out that everyone on the team can score and work well together as teammates.

“If we’re open – we’re going to knock it down.”

Van-Far has four seniors who will graduate this year in Colten Jensen, McMorris, Christian and Hodde. Connaway noted they will be sorely missed.

“They are four outstanding individuals and no egos. They just work together,” he said. “But it I have to lose them, I want them going out as state champs.”

Miller finished the championship game with 16 points, five rebounds and two steals. McMorris scored 15 and pulled down six boards. Wilburn had seven points and went 4-4 from the charity stripe along with a game-leading 11 rebounds. Hodde also had seven points, five rebounds and two assists. Johnson knocked down six points and had nine rebounds and four blocks. Treyson Culwell had three points and Christian rounded out the scoring with two.

Van-Far bested Mid-Buchanan in an exciting 58-55 victory on Thursday night.

The Indians were down by two after the first quarter, 13-11, despite four points from Caden Wilburn and Josh Hodde and a three-pointer by Brayden Christian.

In the second quarter Christian knocked down a couple more three pointers as well as Lathyn McMorris and one from Caden Wilburn. A field goal from Miller gave Van-Far 17 in the quarter but Mid-Buchanan led at halftime 32-28.

The Indians stole the show in the third quarter, outscoring the Dragons 16-6 as McMorris led the way with six points. Hodde contributed a couple of buckets along with baskets from Caden Wilburn, Christian and Miller.

While Mid-Buchanan outscored Van-Far in the final frame, 17-14, the Indians were able to hang on at the free throw line. McMorris hit a basket, a big three-pointer and went 4-6 at the line in the fourth to help clinch the victory and move the Indians into the championship.

McMorris finished the night with 21 points (including four three-pointers), four rebounds and four steals. Caden Wilburn hit 13 points, five boards and two assists. Hodde scored 10 and led rebounding with nine, four assists and two steals. Christian contributed eight points and four rebounds. Miller had six points and six boards to round out scoring.

A parade will be held this Thursday, March 15 starting at 4:30 p.m. The parade will line up at the park and will go through downtown. It will end with a reception at the high school to recognize the team and coaches.

Both state games were featured on TribCast and can be accessed in the archive. Streaming video was not allowed at state but video highlights are available on the Trib’s Facebook page. Fans can also find free, downloadable photo highlights and more at

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