Seymour’s boys basketball team found out the hard way what happens when you fall into an 18-point hole in the first half against a good team.
In Saturday night’s game at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium, the Owls trailed Martinsville 31-13 with 3:10 remaining in the second quarter.
Sparked by a 21-point third quarter, Seymour cut its deficit to six points twice early in the fourth quarter before the visitors regained their composure and went home with a 69-58 win in the season-opener for both teams.
“We did some OK things tonight, but we had too many lulls there in the middle — in the second and third quarters,” Owls coach Kyle Clough said. “Against a team like that, you can’t allow them to get out in front of you 15 points.”
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Martinsville led 53-42 through three quarters, but Toriek Miller scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to pull the Owls to within six.
After the teams traded baskets, Tim Bowlen and Mason Ferguson hit 3-pointers for the Artesians, the latter coming with 4:30 remaining, to make the score 61-49. The closest the Owls could get after that was eight points.
“I was really proud of our kids,” Clough said. “I thought we fought hard. We battled defensively in the second half to give ourselves a chance. They answered the challenge at halftime. It was a good lesson for us.”
The game was tied at 8 with 3:40 left in the first quarter when the Artesians closed on a 9-0 run. They then boosted their lead to 21-8 early in the second quarter.
Jordan Miller’s basket ended a six-minute, 20-second scoreless span for the Owls for a 21-10 score. Martinsville increased a 24-13 lead to 31-13 with 3:10 left in the half.
Seymour then outscored Martinsville 8-6 the remainder of the half for a 37-21 score at the break.
Seymour’s Toriek Miller sat out most of the first half in foul trouble after he picked up two fouls in the first quarter and another one in the second, and a free throw was his only point.
But when he returned to the court in the third quarter, he found his shooting eye with 13 points, including three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws.
Martinsville was leading 41-26 when Miller hit a 3-pointer and Ryan Wieneke and Tiller Cummings drove for layups to cut the gap to 41-33 with 3:52 on the clock.
Miller hit his other two 3-pointers later in the quarter, but Zach Anderson matched that for the visitors to keep his team on top 53-42 going into the fourth.
Miller made five 3-pointers on the night and finished with a team-high 23 points.
“It would have been nice to have (Miller) on the floor in the first half,” Clough said. “I think more important than him getting his points, it opens up the floor for the rest of our guys. Alan (Perry) was open in the middle a little bit there because they weren’t helping off of him.
“He’s got that kind of ability to demand a lot of attention. We’ve got to get our sixth, seventh, eighth guys up to speed, and they’re going to have to come in and play some minutes for us because we’ve got to get Toriek some blows in there when he needs it.”
Cummings had 12 points and five rebounds, and Wieneke matched his eight points with the same number of rebounds.
“(Cummings) is going to be a good player,” Clough said of the 6-foot-6 sophomore. “He got a little bit of the nerves out there. He missed a couple of point-blank layups that he worked really hard to get, but like all of our kids, he kept coming back. He missed one layup, but he came down, got the steal and made the full-court layup on the next possession.”
Anderson topped the Artesians with 27 points, and Riley Skojac scored 10.
“I think they’re a really good team,” Clough said of the Artesians. “They are very experienced with nine seniors, a lot of guys that understand how to win, and you kind of saw that at the end. We gave them our best punch late in the third and early in the fourth, and they stretched it back out to where they were comfortable.”
The Owls shot 20 for 42 from the floor to the Artesians’ 24 for 49.
“We’re shooting the ball better. We’re coming along,” Clough said. “It’s tough because three years later, we’re still talking about the process. Last year and the year before, these guys hammered us, and they had every opportunity to do it, and our kids answered the bell.”