The Van-Far boys basketball team kicked into high gear Wednesday for a 61-39 win over Elsberry in a Class 2 sectional game.
With a record of 25-3, the Van-Far boys basketball team came into Wednesday's Class 2 sectional game inside Korf Gymnasium in Hannibal looking like a well-tuned Ferrari.
Elsberry, with a very workman-like record of 14-13 overall, couldn't handle the shine.
Van-Far kicked into high gear during the second quarter to lead by 14 at halftime en route to a 61-39 victory.
Van-Far advances to face Milan at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday for a state quarterfinal in Moberly.
Garik Hill, Elsberry's 6-foot-6 junior forward, scored seven of his 12 points in the first quarter to keep his team within a point, 14-13, through the first eight minutes of play.
Van-Far responded as Josh Hodde hit a field goal and Lathyn McMorris connected for a pair of 3-pointers to break open the advantage in the second.
Elsberry managed just six points in the pivotal period.
"Once we got settled in, we were able to establish tempo,” Van-Far coach Pat Connaway said. “We thought that on the big court that would play to our strengths, that we'd be able to wear down their big guys by getting out and running the floor.”
Leading 24-19, Caden Wilburn hit from beyond the 3-point line for Van-Far. He then did it again, followed by a field goal and a free throw by Hodde to end the first half up 33-19.
"The entire first half Wilburn was just incredible,” Connaway said. “We also got to the rim and got some easy buckets, which was a big emotional lift heading into the locker room.”
The teams traded baskets in the third.
Van-Far entered the final period with a 46-30 cushion.
The fourth quarter featured four points from the floor for Van-Far from McMorris, but everything else on offense came at the free-throw line.
Wilburn went a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth to help close out the win.
Connaway mentioned his defense is what made the difference.
“The kids just really played excellent defense,” the Van-Far coach said. “We made things tough for Elsberry. This is the way our kids are programmed. We're always in help mode. We want to make sure we're off the ball and ready to close out the shooters."
Van-Far moves one win away from a berth in the Final Four.
Milan (27-2) stands in its way.
“When you get to this time of the year and there's only eight teams left in the state, there's no such thing as an easy matchup, so we're going to go in there and try and be loose and be free,” Connaway said. “We're playing basketball in March. That means we're one step away from the Final Four."