Seymour boys fight off Columbus East challenge

Seymour’s boys basketball team survived a gutsy effort by an undermanned opponent Saturday night and did so with an offensive performance that the program hasn’t seen in nearly three years.

The Owls faced down Columbus East’s red-hot 3-point shooters and pulled away to a 65-56 victory, thanks mainly to a productive inside game and a season-low four turnovers.

Saturday’s offensive output marked the first time the Owls reached the 60-point plateau in 35 games under second-year head coach Kirk Manns. The last time Seymour scored as many points was in February 2018 during a 73-47 win over Austin.

The victory was Seymour’s second consecutive over Columbus East and third in the two teams’ last five contests.

”Tonight was a tale of two different styles,” Manns said. “They like to spread it out and look for outside shots. I really like what we were able to do inside, which opened up passing lanes and driving lanes. I was really pleased with the production we got out of (our big guys).”

The Owls’ frontcourt combined to score 47 points, led by sophomore Eli Meyer’s game-high 19 points and a season-high 18 by junior Casey Regruth. Marcus Brooks added 10, giving Seymour just its second game this season with three double-figure scorers.

“This week in practice, we worked on getting touches inside,” said Regruth, whose last double-digit scoring night came against Brownstown Central in early December. “Early in the game, I got a touch down low, and I was able to get a layup. I saw the ball go in the basket, and my confidence went way up.”

Regruth made eight of 13 shots. Meyer hit eight of his 12 shots and along with Brooks finished with a team-high six rebounds.

“I was able to post up and my teammates got me the ball,” Meyer said. “We’ve been focused on getting the ball inside. We’ve focused on midrange shots to shots in the paint. If we can do that, it’ll open up the rest of the floor.”

Seymour needed a productive inside game to overcome a dramatic second-quarter effort by Columbus East, a team that was simultaneously shorthanded and hot-handed on Saturday.

Dressing just seven of its 17 rostered players due to close-contact quarantine restrictions, East nevertheless made life difficult for Seymour by hitting 10 of 19 3-point shots.

After the Owls jumped ahead 13-3 in the first quarter, East opened the second quarter by making six consecutive 3-pointers during a 20-0 run that ended with the Olympians owning a 23-13 lead.

East added a seventh 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded and scored 21 points in the second quarter, the first time this season the Owls allowed more than 20 points in a period.

“You’ve got to give East credit,” Manns said. “We could’ve done a better job contesting their shots, but you’ve still got to rise up and make them. But give us credit, too. We answered that run.”

Indeed, the Owls responded impressively, outscoring East 24-5 over the game’s next 10 minutes. Meyer, Regruth and Brooks combined to score 18 of those points.

Over the remainder of the game, guards Andrew Levine, Landon Fritsch and Charlie Longmeier provided key buckets and free throws to keep East from getting closer than five points.

Longmeier, a sophomore, finished with nine points, his season-best. Levine made three of four foul shots in the fourth quarter and ended with five points.

Besides dishing out a game-high nine assists, Fritsch scored four points, included two free throws with 1:15 left in the game.

“Coach talked about us not being a young team anymore,” Regruth said. “At this point in the season, we’re an experienced team. Tonight, we showed that we’re able to get a lead and hold onto it.”

The win bumps Seymour’s record to 6-6 overall and 1-2 in the Hoosiers Hills Conference. East fell to 1-9 on the season and 0-2 in the conference.

“I was really pleased with the way we finished out the game,” Manns said. “We had a lot of guys contribute. We’re starting to be able to put bad plays behind us. I think we took a step forward tonight as a team.”