While the start was physical and gritty with long possessions, the Seymour girls basketball team pulled away late in the third quarter before downing Hoosier Hills Conference rivals Jennings County 64-62 on Tuesday.
The Panthers climbed out of a 10-point hole at halftime to narrow their deficit to 36-32 at the 4:14-mark in the third quarter on a basket from junior Sidney Gerkin.
Following a time out, Seymour senior Mikayla Fee took advantage of her size against the Panthers in the paint, scoring six-straight points in the post to give the Owls a 44-32 cushion.
“We really challenged Fee and (Kayla) Griffin at that point,” Owls coach Jason Longmeier said. “Once they cut the lead to four we let them know that they needed to take over that game. When we had those mismatches in the post, I thought we did a better job today of being patient and not forcing it.”
Up 49-36 after three quarters, Griffin went on an offensive tear scoring the Owls’ next five baskets — all from within five feet of the rim.
“I think, at that point in time, she was the best player on the floor and she showed that,” Longmeier said. “She took over and got a lot of rebounds during that stretch.”
Back-to-back baskets from Owls senior Morgan Ritz, which included a 3-pointer, distanced the lead in the final two minutes of play.
“They came out and hit shots, and we came out and couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn,” Panthers assistant coach Justin Earl said of the second half.
The Owls outscored Jennings 15-6 in the final eight minutes of play.
In the first quarter, the Panthers took an early 6-2 lead behind four points by Gerkin.
However, Seymour climbed back, and a 3-pointer by Ritz with 37 ticks on the clock gave the Owls a 13-11 lead after one.
The Panthers started the game with long, pass-heavy possessions.
“We knew we had to really execute offensively,” Earl said. “We wanted to take our time and try to break them down. Right now, we’re kind of struggling getting into the flow of our offense. So, we’re kind of battling that.”
A 3-pointer by Seymour junior Sarah Benefiel, two free throws from freshman Ashton Chase and a basket by junior Lauren James put the Owls up 25-18 with 2:20 left before halftime.
A trey by the Panthers’ Brooklyn Gaines put the score at 28-23, but in favor of Seymour with 1:30 before intermission.
The Panthers could never recover from the opening half, trailing 33-23.
Griffin led Seymour with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Ritz had 14 behind four 3-pointers.
“We definitely don’t have the size they have,” Earl said. “They did a good job of getting it into the post. Jason (Longmeier) does a nice job of isolating his post players. We have small guards guarding in the post and need to work on our help defense in there.”
Gerkin topped the Panthers with 15 while Alexus Brown tallied six points.
Seymour had eight made 3s to the Panthers’ two marks from behind the arc.
The Owls (9-1) remain perfect in HHC play moving to 3-0, while the Panthers (5-5) dropped to 0-3.