Defense sparks Van Horn to scoring record
The Van Horn boys basketball team got a phone call from assistant coach Dante Lee before Tuesday’s game at Oak Grove.
“He said, ‘Take care of business,’” Falcons senior Sean Mitchell said.
The Falcons definitely did that and set a school record to boot. Van Horn scored the most points it has tallied in a single game since joining the Independence School District in 2008 in a 109-51 rout of Oak Grove.
“Our goal was not to let them score and when you do that at 90 feet, sometimes when you’re really lucky, it results in 100 points,” Van Horn coach Max Sollars said.
The previous high was last season’s game against Heritage Christian Academy, which the Falcons won 100-51.
“We wanted a statement game,” said Van Horn senior Jaden Monday, who scored a game-high 30 points. “We wanted to go out and put it on a team.”
The Falcons (5-4) did that from the get-go, jumping out to a 29-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter and pushing the lead to 65-21 at halftime. Their defense was relentless, using a man-to-man press to help force 25 of Oak Grove’s 32 turnovers in the first half. That led to a bevy of fast-break layups.
“We just found our man and talked to each other when we switched,” Monday said of the defense. “Honestly, we practice man-to-man full (court press). We just try to be better than the man in front of us.
“This is our best defensive game of the season.”
And this wasn’t just a one-time strategy for the Falcons either. They like to use full-court pressure in every game.
“We went against teams that had no ball handlers. We went against teams that can’t dribble,” Monday said. “And we didn’t do that (score 109 points). It was a mixture of high energy and just talking and trusting each other.”
And that led to nine out of 10 Falcons players who got playing time to score at least one point. In addition to Monday’s 30 points, Brycen Dean had 19, Jeremy Paige had 16, Sean Mitchell, Za’Corrie Kerr and Korey Messick had 11 each, Kayleb Jefferson had five, Darius Ross had four and Cameron McCormack had two.
“I wasn’t worried about how many points I scored, I just wanted to play with as much energy as I could, and help the team get a win,” Messick said.
The Van Horn bench erupted when Kerr banked in a 3-pointer late in the third period from the top of the key. That’s because it was the Falcons’ 100th point as they led by 62 (100-38) going into the fourth.
“We really didn’t notice until we got to about 90,” Sollars said of closing in on 100 points. “Then we put some of our younger guys in there. I know we took the dogs off, but we still felt like we could compete at a high level.
“The young guys aren’t coming in to burn time, they are looking to earn minutes.”
Jamison Kirk led Oak Grove (0-5) with 15 points, Hunter Jones added 11 and Landon Chance chipped in with 10.