Seymour boys hoops loud and proud


The big gym was sparsely populated, but the Seymour boys have been practicing for that.

Ordinarily, the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium would have been rocking as the Owls pulled away for a 56-38 victory over Martinsville last Saturday night. Given the seat availability of more than 8,000, the largest high school arena in Indiana, the potential for eardrum-damaging noise was present.

But in the age of the coronavirus, when attendance capacities are capped due to the risk of contagion, part of the Owls’ playbook is to generate their own buzz.

This was a night that would have revved up a crowd because the Owls did so many things right and so many things better than the Artesians. They even one-upped them on fashion.

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The old Indiana University candy-cane warm-up pants were emulated by Martinsville as part of its leggings, red-and-white long stripes. Seymour has the same kind of gear, but the pants are purple and white.

Not only did the Owls outshoot and outscore the Artesians handily and fend off a second-half run when needed, but Martinsville gathered just 12 rebounds in the game. Now that’s keeping a team off the glass.

All elements of Seymour’s performance were applause-worthy, and while it was not truly the Sounds of Silence in the building, there were many instances deserving of louder responses. Given COVID-19 pandemic rules, though, there was hardly anyone present to appreciate them.

Coach Kirk Manns realized even before the season this might be reality and from the start urged his players to be their own fan club, make their own clamor, stir up their own energy.

“We’re trying to create energy on the bench,” Manns said. “It’s so dead. But it’s dead for both teams.”

Junior forward Casey Regruth said Seymour practices are loud. Run the motion offense, drill that zone defense, block out, and oh yeah, make noise. Really.

“We try to be as loud as possible,” Regruth said. “He (Manns) wanted energy. He wanted us to make noise.”

Not many athletes, professional on down, have said the shortage of fans in their arenas doesn’t matter to them. They may not consciously note the cheering when they make a big play, but they really do. It’s in their blood.

At the highest level of sport, the participants recognize they are also providing entertainment and they feed off crowd response when they bash a home run, score a touchdown or make a slam dunk. That reward is like being awarded extra style points.

But it’s also a psychological kick. Watch teams on the bench when they are ahead and when they are behind, when they are worried about trailing or making a comeback. Yes, the word energy has genuine meaning. You can read teams’ moods by their sideline behavior.

Granted, it might not be politic to be jumping up and down if you are down by 20, but when the game is close or you are ahead, clapping, shouting, cheering, whether it comes from the stands or from teammates, does provide a boost.

The Martinsville game was a feel-good win for 4-5 Seymour. There wasn’t much for a coach to criticize, and there were highlights from numerous players.

Guard Charlie Longmeier ran the offense smoothly. Manns demands a patient, careful approach to making plays, being certain not to rush, making certain to get the best possible available. It starts with Longmeier at the point, and usually, the ball will come back to him through the point quite a few times before the Owls find that most appealing shot.

Seymour is a young team without seniors, and Longmeier is a sophomore. Manns said before the season, this would be a work in progress with him hoping to see growth as the year went along. He said after this victory that he has seen such progress, and the Martinsville game was a good example of it.

The players know it, too.

“Yes, we have seen growth,” Longmeier said.

It is always valuable to be better this week than last week. But this season there is also a certain amount of good fortune in being able to maintain a normal schedule uninterrupted by the virus.

“We’ve been really lucky so far,” Longmeier said.

There may be limits on how many people can watch them play and on how many people the Seymour Owls can hear cheer for them, but the most important thing is being able to play on.

And to give themselves a shoutout when they deserve it.

Lew Freedman is the Sports Editor for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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