When you have a target on your back from the get-go, with expectations running rampant, it makes the task at hand all the more difficult.
The Seymour girls basketball team knew coming into the 2015-16 season that every team in the Hoosier Hills Conference wanted to take them down.
Just track back on social media and check opposition from the other HHC schools — many didn’t want the Owls to win.
A handful outwardly cheered against Seymour, telling fellow HHC teams to take it to the Owls.
The Owls met adversity early and adapted while keeping their unwavering eyes on the crown.
Bedford North Lawrence ruled the HHC, winning four straight titles and 30 straight conference games coming into the season.
That second game of the season against the Stars was all the difference.
Finishing 7-0 in any Class 4A conference is an incredible feat — especially in the HHC where four teams rank in the top 40 in the state.
Not only that, but the team also set the school record for regular-season wins by capturing its 18th victory of the season Thursday.
The most wins that a Seymour team has ever mustered during a season is 23 victories.
I think that’s what makes their outright HHC title all that more impressive.
Losing two-time All-HHC senior Emilee Pollmann at the beginning of the season, the Owls could have hung their heads and been content with another second place finish.
Pollmann was a centerpiece to the team, along with fellow-seniors Mikayla Fee, Maci Lubker, Morgan Ritz and junior Kayla Griffin.
Instead of bowing down, the girls stepped up on the court and continued the mission.
Lauren James, Sarah Benefiel and Ashton Chase all got starting minutes throughout the season in Pollmann’s place and each had a tremendous role in the team’s successes.
Senior Lindsey Hume also played a key role off the bench, providing leadership, defense and 3-point accuracy.
Not to mention underclassmen Makenna Fee and Katie Suits, who also filled the four and five spots during key games.
How fitting was it that Pollmann hit the two free throws that virtually iced the game against New Albany for the outright title?
I would imagine those were the two biggest free throws of her career.
It’s poetic justice, in a way.
Coach Jason Longmeier and assistants Nathan Owen, Amanda Gerth and Allison Darling demanded the best from their team, and that’s what they got.
The Owls finished in a three-way tie for the HHC in 2007, but winning it outright is that much sweeter.
While the celebrations are still in order for the historic regular-season run, the Owls now focus on a rematch with the Bulldogs in sectional play Tuesday.
Should the Owls win again, they face a tough Jeffersonville team in the semifinals.
On championship Saturday, the Owls would likely see BNL.
A Seymour-Bedford North Lawrence matchup would be a game to remember, especially on the Stars’ home court.
Jordan Morey is the sports editor for The Tribune. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.