Falcons finally end drought against Bears
In the final seconds of Friday’s game, Jaden Monday stood at the line with the outcome still in the balance.
The Van Horn senior calmly made the first free throw with but missed the second. The guard then battled through the bodies in the paint and grabbed the rebound.
He went up for another shot and drew a foul again, less than two seconds later.
Given another chance at the line, Monday hit both to build a six-point lead to ice the game. A late basket by William Chrisman accounted for the final score, 61-57.
“I tried to keep my focus because I knew we needed the free throws, so I had to put them in,” said Monday, a Washburn signee who finished with a game-high 16 points. “It made me upset when I missed it. I immediately wanted to get it back and I got it back.”
It was a rare victory for the Indians against their Independence School District rival, believed to be the first since Van Horn joined the district in 2008.
According to MSHSAA, the Bears had won the previous 10 meetings against the Falcons and most had been lopsided.
Van Horn held a 47-40 lead going into the fourth but a 3-pointer by Anthony Watkins helped the Bears (3-4) pull within four right away.
Over the next 2 1/2 minutes, Chrisman pulled within a point, but each time Van Horn (3-3) found a way to respond.
A 3-pointer from Antonio Rodriguez-Urena – his second of the game – cut the deficit to 47-46, but right after that Alex Atagi fouled for the Bears. He joined Dayne Herl, who also fouled out, on the bench.
On that next possession, Jeremy Paige hit a 3-pointer for the Falcons and then Brycen Dean scored to push the lead back to six. A basket by Jalen White and then a 3-pointer from Rodriguez-Urena helped Chrisman pull within 52-51.
The Bears even had the ball with a chance to go ahead but missed a 3-pointer.
On the other end, Monday drilled a 3-pointer and on Chrisman’s next possession, he grabbed a rebound and passed ahead to Dean for a layup in transition.
Up by six, 57-51, the lead quickly shrunk. Trey Kates – who tallied a team-high 14 – scored for Chrisman. The Falcons missed three straight free throws but grabbed the rebound on a miss on the front end of a one-and-one to keep possession and burn 20 seconds off the clock.
Watkins hit a jumper, making it a one-possession game, 58-55, with less than 30 seconds to play. Van Horn traveled and Chrisman was provided one last chance to tie the game.
A jumper was off the mark and Kayleb Jefferson rebounded it for the Falcons and quickly passed to Monday.
That set up Monday’s 3-of-4 showing at the line to seal the win – doing so in front of Washburn assistant coach Jordan Banks.
“We’ve got to be tougher,” Chrisman coach Jake Kates said. “We gave up four rebounds off free throws. You won’t win games that way. We had two of our guys foul out; I was proud of the younger guys that stepped up. It was another experience for us to grow. We are a young team.”
Van Horn led for a majority of the game, starting with an 8-2 run. Chrisman rallied in the second half on an 8-0 run with points from Herl, Kates and Watkins to take a 26-20 lead.
A 3-pointer by Herl with four seconds left in the first half gave the Bears a 31-27 lead at the break.
Van Horn outscored the Bears 20-9 in the third quarter, and it was Monday who broke a 40-40 tie on a layup. Paige, who finished with 15 points, then hit a 3-pointer to give the Falcons a little more cushion. Sean Mitchell had a buzzer-beating layup to make it 47-40 going into the final quarter.
Each team had three players scoring in double figures. Dean added 10 for the Falcons.
Sir'Rahn Felix had 12 and Rodriguez-Urena finished with 11 for the Bears.
“I never even coached competitively against Jake,” Van Horn coach Max Sollars said. “Jake has completely out-coached me every single time I’ve been around him. He is so much better than me it is stupid, but we finally got them tonight.
“We got real lucky they had foul trouble, but that is part of the game. The game is way different with Dayne or No. 30 (Atagi) the whole game. We still have to be ready and I felt we did a good job of sticking to the script. We might play them again and this one won’t matter.”