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Van Horn rout marred by ejection

By Cody Thorn
The Examiner

LATHROP, Mo. — Van Horn secured a season-best three-game winning streak with 79-51 victory over Cameron in the opening round of the Bill Burns Classic at Lathrop High School.

If the Falcons will make it four in a row, they will have to do so without one of the best players.

Jaden Monday scored a game-high 26 points but was also assessed a pair of technicals, leading to an early exit and a spot on the bench when the Falcons play University Academy Wednesday in the tournament.

“That was our worst game of the season,” Van Horn coach Max Sollars said of his team that improved to 6-4 and was coming off a 109-51 win over Oak Grove last week.

The Falcons showed flashes of dominance in the first half, finding ways to pull away from the Dragons on a few occasions.

TJ Best had a three-point play and Van Horn’s lead was cut to 25-22, but 6-0 run helped give the Falcons some breathing room. A 3-pointer by Caden Turner helped Cameron cut the lead to 35-30 late in the second quarter, but a 10-0 run by the Falcons helped them pull away again. Monday had a 3-pointer from the corner and on the next possession, he dished off to Sean Mitchell for a layup. At halftime, the Falcons led 45-34.

Cameron scored the first basket of the third quarter but Van Horn answered with a 15-1 run to build a 60-37 lead. Monday picked up his first technical with 5:06 left and then second came with 1:58 left in the quarter.

Monday yelled “and one” after a basket and then the same official that gave him the first technical issued another.

Sollars said the official told him it was due to the “aggressive” way that Monday yelled.

“If this was our first time here it would be different, but our kids know how they call it,” Sollars said. “It is not on anyone but them to act the right way. It is on them, not on anyone else. It is like speeding and getting pulled over and being mad. We knew what it is like.”

Van Horn had been in the tournament since 2016 and Sollars, who played at St. Joseph Lafayette, knows how some officials in northwest Missouri tend to call games a little bit tighter than they do in Kansas City.

Van Horn led 72-43 going into the fourth quarter but was outscored by the Dragons in the fourth.

“I think as soon as that happened we took a big step backward as far as our maturity,” Sollars said. “We didn’t overcome adversity like we are trained and coached to do and it showed by the technicals and how the bench acted at the end of the game.”

Tuesday will provide a chance for the Falcons to run some drills without Monday, who will be forced to sit out due to MSHSAA rules. Darius Ross noted that isn’t something new though, the Falcons have practiced scenarios in case their top scorer is in foul trouble or fouled out.

“People will have to step up and do what we do as a team,” said Ross, who had 11 points, joining Jeremy Paige for second on the team in scoring. “We have to fight through adversity. It's more of a mental battle. We have to be mentally tough. We won’t get all the calls. We aren’t the home team. We won’t get the calls, but we have to be a good basketball team and be mentally strong.”

Girls

The Falcons held a 3-2 lead after a 3-pointer from Lexi Robinson in the first quarter but Cameron went on a 10-0 run and never looked back in a 68-38 win in the opening round of the girls portion of the Bill Burns Classic.

Cameron, seeded No. 1 in the seven-team bracket, advanced to the semifinals on Thursday against Mid-Buchanan or Lathrop, which will play Tuesday night. Van Horn will draw the loser in the consolation portion of the bracket at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Cameron led 16-6 after the first quarter and had a 13-0 run that extended through the middle of the second quarter. Van Horn (0-6) snapped the skid thanks to a basket by Erika Parrish with 4:24 to play in the first half. The next basket for the Falcons came nearly three minutes later when Emari Smith scored, which made it 37-11.

At halftime, Cameron (11-1) led 44-15.

Van Horn was held without a basket in the third quarter, getting four three throws, while Cameron extended the lead to 60-19 going into the final quarter. Van Horn added 19 points during the turbo-clock fourth. Smith had 10 points – finishing with 12 – while Lexi Robinson drained a trio of 3-pointers and had a team-high 15 points.

Northwest Missouri State signee Laini Joseph had 26 points in three quarters, including 14 in the 28-point second quarter, to lead the Dragons.

Tournament play resumes Tuesday with St. Michael the Archangel playing University Academy. The Guardians are in the pool play portion of the event and will also play Savannah.