Van-Far edges Hayti in OT for championship
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Hayti Indians played with a lead most of the way Friday but ultimately finished a basket shy of securing its first state title since 1983.
The Van-Far Indians rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime and scored with four seconds left to edge Hayti 56-55 in the Class 2 state championship at the JQH Arena.
"We lost," Hayti coach Aaron Bidewell said. "We had a bunch of kids that wanted to win very badly. [Van-Far] made some plays, and hats off to them because they made plays late and we did not."
Van-Far (29-3) never led after halftime until it recorded the final field goal of overtime to win its second title in school history and first since 2004.
Senior guard Kobe Cooper scored to put Hayti on top 52-50 with 3:36 left in overtime. Van-Far forward Verlyn Johnson followed with a bucket of his own to tie things up with 2:42 left. Junior guard Chrivantae Moore responded with a 3-pointer 18 seconds later to put Hayti (24-6) on top 55-52.
Lathyn McMorris brought Van-Far closer when he cut the deficit to 55-54 with 54 seconds left.
After the field goal by McMorris, Hayti melted the clock to 14 seconds before Van-Far fouled. Chrivantae Moore missed the front end of a one-and-one and Van Far's Joshua Moore rebounded it. He pushed the ball to half court where Van-Far burned its final timeout with eight seconds left.
Van-Far threw an inbound pass a few feet to the left of the basket to an open Trey Miller. The 6-foot-2 junior penetrated and scored to put Van-Far on top 56-55 with four seconds left.
"We were in the huddle and coach said, 'You are the biggest bull in the yard. Brayden is going to screen for you and there is nobody that can stop you," Miller said of the game-winning shot. "When I got the ball nobody was there and I just stuck it up and scored."
Hayti enjoyed a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and led by as much as 13 with 5:22 left in the half before Van-Far trimmed the margin to 27-20 by halftime.
"A high emphasis for all of our kids was rebounding and defensive positioning," Bidewell said. "Our focus on defense and rebounding was high in the first quarter and it kind of dropped off from there."
Hayti increased its lead to 39-30 by the start of the fourth quarter and continued to lead 50-42 with 1:49 left.
Van-Far scored the final eight points in a spurt that concluded with Miller knocking down a shot with 32 seconds left to tie things up at 50-all.
Hayti held for the final shot.
Darius Jones penetrated inside the free-throw line but missed a shot.
"We came here as a family and worked hard," Hayti junior Jerrod Covington said. "We just came up short."
Van-Far shot 40 percent (21 of 53) from the field. Hayti shot 34 percent (21 of 61). Van-Far recorded 30 of its 56 points in the paint
"Our post players can handle the ball," Van-Far coach Patt Connaway said. "Most teams we play don't have that luxury. We can spread the floor out and have them put the ball on the floor to break a press. We are lucky to have them."