The race for the Hoosier Hills Conference title slammed into a roadblock for Seymour’s girls basketball team Thursday.
Seymour (8-9, 3-2 HHC) couldn’t come up with enough points down the stretch in a 52-49 conference loss to Columbus East (12-3, 2-1 HHC) at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first quarter, as the Owls went 2-for-12 and East made 3 of 14 attempts.
East broke a 1-1 tie with a 7-0 run on baskets from Whitley Rankin, Claire Cunningham and Addy Galarno.
Grace Meyer stopped the Olympians’ run with a basket with under a minute left of play, and Makenna Fee added a score to cut the Owls’ deficit to 9-5 at the end of eight minutes of play.
In the second quarter, East’s bench accounted for 10 of the team’s 14 points before the break — including eight points by Sarah Park.
At one point, due to foul trouble, East was forced to sit four of its starters at once.
“We didn’t do a good job of taking advantage (of their foul trouble) at the time,” Owls coach Jason Longmeier said. “We wanted to force (Park) to shoot outside, but we got caught on the high side.”
While the Olympians maintained the lead for most all of the second quarter, the Owls got hot from the field in the waning minutes of the half.
In the final 1:12 of the half, the Owls went on a 10-0 scoring streak.
A 3-pointer by Maddie Roark ignited the run, which was capped by an and-one by Meyer with less than a second on the clock.
At the break, the Owls held a 24-23 lead.
In a tight third quarter, neither team would build a lead greater than three points.
Back-to-back baskets from Galarano and Kristen Lyons put the Olympians up 35-32 with 2:30 on the clock before a pair of scores from Fee cut the lead to one with 10 ticks left in the quarter.
At the buzzer, Kaitlyn Dougherty got a layup to fall to put East up 39-36.
The Owls jumped to a 43-39 lead on a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
Seymour held onto the lead until a pair of free throws by Lyons and a score in the post by Britney Ballard put East up 50-49 with 1:57 left.
The Owls turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, and East ran the clock down to 23 seconds until Seymour elected to foul.
Ballard hit the freebies, and East got a pair of stops to hang on for the win.
Galarno, Park and Lyons each scored 10 points to lead East and Meyer topped Seymour with 14 points.
The Owls had 18 turnovers to the Olympians’ 10.
“The reason we lost the game was because their seniors made plays down the stretch,” Longmeier siad. “That’s what seniors do. You look at us two years ago, and I compare (East, now) to what we were then. Two years ago we weren’t losing those games down the stretch.”