VHT Day Two: Vandals play well in close loss to Flora

Brian Buscher looked on the bright side.
Buscher's Vandalia Vandals had just suffered a heartbreaking 68-66 loss to Flora on Saturday night at the 43rd Annual Vandalia Holiday Tournament.
But despite the disappointing loss, Buscher stayed positive as looked ahead to the rest of the 2014-15 season.
"Our kids played really well," Buscher said. "I feel bad for them. But if we play like that every night, we're going to win a lot of games."
The nail-biter was close throughout, but the Wolves got it done in crunch time.
Still, there were several positives in the loss for VCHS. Simply put, the Vandals should gain confidence from this one, even though the outcome didn't go their way in the end.
The Vandals shot 65 percent from two-point range (13 of 20) and hit 10 of 22 three's in the game (45 percent). The Vandals moved the ball well and got contributions up and down the lineup.
"This was the closest to a full 32 minutes that we've played," Buscher said. "We played some really good ball tonight. We moved the ball, ran our offense and hit some shots. And I know they're capable of that all the time."
That's not all.
Freshman Nathan Casey had a breakout performance for the Vandals. The 6-1 forward scored 24 points on eight of 11 shooting. Casey knocked down six three-pointers.
"Nathan had a monster game," Buscher said. "I trust the ball in Nathan's hands."
Casey wasn't the only Vandal who had a solid outing. Sophomore guard Richie Well scored 15 points, making four threes. Senior Collin Nestleroad contributed 14 points.
Flora standout Bryce Pearce poured in 28 points, including four three-pointers.
"We knew he was going to get his points, but I thought Collin and Kelly Jones did a tremendous job on him."
Flora's Logan Smith scored 14 points, including the game-winning hoop. Jefrey Gocey added 14 points and made the biggest jumper of the game. The Wolves shot 55 percent on two-pointers (16 of 29) and also hit 10 three's.
The Vandals had a 37-30 lead at halftime and a slim 54-51 cushion heading into the fourth period. But Flora standout Pearce got going in a big way, knocking down shot after shot to give his team the lead.
But Casey answered with five-straight points before Flora's Gocey nailed a triple of his own, cutting Vandalia's lead to one, 64-63, with 2:28 left.
The Vandals then ran nearly two minutes off the clock, forcing the Wolves to foul.
Casey hit two clutch free throws with 30 seconds left, giving his team a 66-63 lead.
But after an offensive rebound, Flora's Gocey drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game with 15 seconds left.
The Vandals then turned the ball over on an inbounds play.
"I don't know if he got pushed or if the pass led him too close to out of bounds," Buscher said. "But it was a huge play."
After a foul and timeout, the Wolves had the ball out of bounds under their own basket with 4.5 seconds left.
While everyone in the gym figured Pearce would shoot it, Logan Smith cut down the lane, caught an alley-oop and laid it in for the go-ahead layup with 2.8 seconds left.
"It's a nightmare to guard that when they have the ball under the basket," Buscher said. "We guarded it exactly right and they still slipped the screen and got a layup. We played it right, but they ran it perfectly."
The Vandals turned the ball over on the inbounds, as the pass sailed out of bounds, all but sealing the win for the Wolves.
The Wolves stayed perfect in Pool B at 3-0, while the Vandals fell to 1-2.

Flora 68, Vandalia 66
VA  19  18   17   12 — 66
FL   16  14    21   17  — 68
Vandalia: Nestleroad 6 2-4 14, Casey 8 2-2 24, Durbin 1 2-2 4, Well 4 3-3 15, Jones 0 1-3 1, DuFaux 2 0-0 4, Dokey 2 0-0 4. Totals 13 (10) 10-14 66. Three-pointers: Casey 6, Well 4. Rebounds 24 (Durbin 5). Fouls 9. Turnovers 16.
Flora: Pearce 11 2-2 28, L. Smith 5 3-4 14, Leib 3 0-0 7, Gocey 5 0-0 14, Moses 1 1-2 3, Scott 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 (10) 6-8 68. Three-pointers: Pearce 4, Gocey 4, L. Smith, Leib. Rebounds 10 (L. Smith). Fouls 13. Turnovers 6.

Kelly Jones scores inside for Vandalia.

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