Owls clutch at line, pull away for win

For The Tribune

The Seymour girls basketball team made 11 of 12 free throws during the final 3:35 of Tuesday night’s Hoosier Hills Conference basketball game against Bedford North Lawrence and claimed a 46-39 win in the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

The win snapped an eight-game losing string to the Stars and also ended Bedford’s 30-game HHC win streak.

“Somebody eventually had to (beat them), and I’m glad it was us,” Owls coach Jason Longmeier said. “This is not going to define who they are. They are just going to continue to get better and better. As they find more scoring options to go along with (Jorie) Allen, they are going to be a tough out in the tournament.”

The Owls held a 30-15 lead with 4:50 left in the third period and were on top 34-27 early in the fourth before the visitors went on an 8-0 run to take a 35-34 lead with 4:52 remaining.

Maci Lubker made one free throw at 3:55 and two more at 3:35 to make the score 3:35, and the Owls remained tied or in the lead the rest of the way.

Lubker made 8 of 10 at the line in the fourth quarter and 10 of 12 for the game and topped the Owls in scoring with 14 points.

“We lost our energy toward the end of the third quarter,” Lubker said. “They started getting their energy up, and that is when we kind of fell apart a little bit. But we definitely brought that energy back and won the game.”

The Owls were 18 for 20 at the line for the night, and Lubker said the time the girls spend at the line during practice paid off.

Seymour was picked to win the HHC in one poll, and Lubker said this win was big.

“We’re expected to be first in the conference, and this was our biggest obstacle getting to that goal,” she said.

The Owls held a 33-22 advantage on the boards with Kayla Griffin topping Seymour with 10 rebounds, while Morgan Ritz and Mikayla Fee had eight apiece.

Allen topped the Stars (0-2, 0-1 HHC) with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“(Allen) is a good freshman, but Kayla and Mikayla both did really awesome battling on the boards,” Lubker said.

Allen fouled out with 1:29 remaining and the score tied at 38.

Griffin made two free throws to put the Owls in front to stay.

“When Allen went out the game was different,” Longmeier said. “At that point, our thought process was limit their possessions, take (Kennedy) Bunch away and make somebody else beat you. Our girls did a really good job of executing that.”

Ritz scored seven points in the first period to help the Owls take a 14-3 lead.

Griffin had five points in the second when the Owls increased their lead to 24-11 at the break.

A basket by Lauren James put the Owls on top 30-15 with 4:50 left in the third before the Stars went on a 12-2 run to close to 32-27 at the end of the period.

“Our lead evaporated really quickly,” Longmeier said. “We talked about it in the locker room. We talk about momentum breakers, we talk about open 3-pointers, poor transition, and turnovers, and that’s kind of what happened.

“It was a combination of all three things, but I thought our girls showed an awful lot of poise, especially when Bedford took the lead. Our girls really showed the experience we have. To step to the line at the end of the game and to knock those clutch free throws down really talks a lot about the character of our kids.”

The Owls made 10 of 21 shots from the floor and had six turnovers in the first half.

They cooled off to 2 for 6 from the floor and had seven turnovers in the third.

Longmeier said he thought his team passed up some open shots in the third period.

“We kind of got tentative and a little bit tight there and their ball pressure had an awful lot to do with it,” he said. “The way (McKenzie) Messmore and (Loren) Bailey can get after you at the mid court line really creates a lot of problems.

“I thought, in the third quarter when we started to get tired, they really took advantage of that.”

The Owls (2-0, 1-0 HHC) will be without two-year senior starter Emilee Pollmann for 4 to 6 weeks while she recovers from a knee injury.

Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.