Seymour’s girls basketball team opened up a 53-33 lead after three quarters and defeated Salem 60-54 in the non-conference opener for both schools on the Lions’ floor Saturday night.

Salem outscored Seymour 21-7 in the fourth period. The Lions made five 3-point shots in the fourth, while the Owls made 7 of 12 free throws during that time.

Seymour held a 59-48 lead following a free throw by Aidan Hiester with 47 seconds remaining, and the closest the Lions came was six points on Hope Tomlinson’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

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“We did a good job of controlling the game,” Owls coach Jason Longmeier said. “Yes, it ended up being six, but the game was much more in hand than that. We had some defensive lapses late where we didn’t do a very good job against their screen game, so we’re going to have to go back on film and look at those things and fix those.”

Longmeier said his players need to communicate better and not let opponents have wide open 3-pointers like Salem did in the fourth period.

“We gave them some wide open 3’s, but they also hit a couple with some hands in their face,” he said. “I thought they scrapped hard tonight. I give a lot of credit to Salem for fighting.”

Salem held a 17-14 lead at the end of the opening period, and was on top 20-16 lead early in the second when the Owls went on a 9-0 run to lead 25-16.

Ashton Chase had made a 3-pointer and a layup, and Makenna Fee had two baskets during that rally. Fee had 10 points in the period.

Longmeier said he liked the way his team closed out the first half.

“The end of the second quarter and through the third quarter we played really well all-around. We rebounded the ball well. I think they only got three offensive rebounds for the entire game, and I think two of those were because we didn’t attack the basketball.”

Seymour led 29-23 at the half and took their first 10-point lead 38-28, on a 3-pointer by Chase with 4:30 left in the third.

Seymour was on top 42-33 before closing the quarter on an 11-0 run with Fee making two layups and two free throws, Maddie Roark had a 3-pointer and Chase a jumper from the baseline.

Fee finished with 24 points, Chase scored 17 and Roark 16.

“Fee is an inside-outside kid, and she hit some outside shots early that forced them to come out and that opened up some penetration for her,” Longmeier said. “We’ve got to come up with some things to get her playing with her back to the basket a little bit more, and we will.”

Chase ran in the girls’ state cross-country meet one week earlier and had to make a quick transition to basketball.

Longmeier said she did a good job for only practicing five days. “She’s an athlete and you see Ashton make some plays that other kids just can’t make. Her instincts are so good.”

Leah Miller topped Salem with 19 points and Tomlinson scored 14.

Longmeier said he liked the way his team handled the ball. “I thought we handed the press well. I thought we made the extra pass, and we played really unselfish. I was so pleased the way we passed the ball. We passed up some pretty good looks for some great looks, and that’s a big thing as you’re moving forward and trying to get to that next level.”

Megan Ritz pulled down 15 rebounds to help the Owls outrebound the Lions 30-20.

“I thought Megan was dynamite on the boards,” Longmeier said. “She handled the rebounds so that was a big plus for us.

“I was pleased overall. Our depth has to be better. We’re going to have to be able to go deeper into the bench. They were able to sub a lot more than we were and I thought a lot of our mistakes late were mental, fatigue mistakes.”

He said the players need to continue to fill roles in order for the team to win.

“We’re eventually going to play somebody that’s not going to let Fee (get open shots),” Longmeier said. “We’re eventually going play teams that are going to get up into us a little bit, and we’ve got to be able to handle some of that stuff.”

The Owls (1-0) will host Heritage Christian tomorrow night.

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