Jason Longmeier said his Seymour girls basketball team is growing more and more every day.
“We’re learning what our roles are, and we’re playing together,” he said. “We have experience back this year, and we are still finding out our roles and filling in those spots.”
Longmeier added that the team seems to be meshing well together. That chemistry was on display Tuesday night at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium, as the Owls rolled to their fifth straight win, defeating Jennings County 59-44.
The Owls got off to a quick start, jumping ahead to a quick 11-4 lead midway through the first quarter. That start was fueled by five points from senior Lauren James, four from senior Kayla Griffin and two from sophomore Makenna Fee.
The quarter ended with a 18-9 lead in favor of the Owls. Panthers junior Alexus Brown accounted for seven of the team’s points in the first quarter.
The second quarter did not run as smooth for the Owls.
They were able to get good looks, but the shots did not seem to fall. That coupled with four turnovers led to the Panthers clawing their way to a 12-5 run to start the quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, senior Sarah Benefiel rejuvenated the team with a 3-pointer to bring the Owls up 26-21. Longmeier said that broke a chain of tough breaks for the Owls.
“We got away from what was working for us early on, and we had some trouble,” he said, adding the team often works on the 3-point shot in transition. “Sarah went down and got her feet set and knocked it in, and that kind of settled us back in.”
The two teams exchanged baskets before Benefiel stole the ball at midcourt and scored a layup.
The Owls led 30-23 at the half. Griffin led the Owls with eight points and five rebounds in the first half.
The third quarter began with a 7-2 run by Seymour, but then Jennings County began to inch its way back with a quick layup by senior Sidney Gerkin and a 3-pointer by senior Eliza Gasper.
The Panthers continued to build little by little with missed free throws and opportunities by the Owls. The quarter ended with the Owls up 42-37. The Panthers’ Brown and junior Macy Roth both hit two free throws to end the quarter.
The Owls opened up the fourth quarter with hot hands from the perimeter. Both Griffin and sophomore Ashton Chase hit 3-pointers to start things off, leading to a timeout by the Panthers. The Panthers also had two turnovers in the first two minutes of play, aiding the Owls’ effort of building on their lead.
That’s when the Panthers scored five points off two turnovers by the Owls to bring the score to 48-42. The Owls answered back with a three-point play by Griffin to make the score 51-42 midway through the fourth quarter.
The next two minutes were slow for both teams. The Owls worked the ball around for the lengthy possession that ended fruitless after a miss from James. The Panthers had two turnovers in the same time frame.
The Owls pulled away with free throws from Fee and Griffin to secure the 59-44 win.
Griffin led the Owls with 22 points and nine rebounds. Longmeier said she displayed a great amount of strength throughout the game.
“I think she’s capable of doing that often, and I think Fee is, as well, and that was our main focus tonight,” he said.
The two combined for 36 points in the win. Longmeier said the team rolled around those two throughout the evening.
“Everyone worked the ball around to them, and I thought Griffin was great, especially in the second half,” he said.
Longmeier said Griffin also is hard to guard because of her versatility on the floor. Griffin made most of her points in the post but also made a 3-pointer at the start of the second half. She was also 5 for 5 from the line.
“We ask a little bit of everything from her, and she does everything we ask of her,” he said.