Bloomington North survives stingy Seymour team 40-38

BLOOMINGTON — Seymour had a shot at the buzzer to pick up its second straight win, and a big one, over Bloomington North, but the last-second heave didn’t go in as the Owls fell against the Cougars 40-38 on Saturday night.

It was a low-scoring, grind-it-out battle between the two programs, and after a slow start, Seymour started to find its way.

Bret Perry drilled a 3-pointer to put Seymour up 17-14 in the second quarter, and the Owls went to the locker room with a 19-17 halftime lead.

“We got off to a slow start,” head coach Kirk Manns said. “We didn’t match their energy for the first five minutes, and quite honestly, they didn’t match ours for the next two and a half quarters.”

The Owls extended their lead to three at the end of the third quarter, 29-26, thanks to some timely buckets from Landon Fritsch, including a 3-pointer.

North was fresh off of a thrilling 53-50 victory at Bloomington South the previous night, and Seymour was also coming off a 45-36 win the prior night against Charlestown.

For most of the night, the Owls did a nice job of keeping Bloomington North standout and Vanderbilt commit Jaqualon Roberts out of the paint.

In the fourth quarter, the 6-foot-8 forward started to hit big shots and get to the charity stripe.

“I thought it was a total team effort,” Manns said on guarding Roberts. “He really got away from us in the fourth quarter, and a lot of those were on free throws. We kept him out of the paint for three and a half quarters.”

Roberts flushed down a two-handed dunk with 2:42 left to give the Cougars a 35-33 lead. Two more free throws from Roberts gave North a 37-35 lead, and then Fritsch came down the floor and drilled a huge 3-pointer to put the Owls up 38-37 with 55.4 seconds to play.

Seymour’s defense then came up with a big stop as Jaylan Johnson got a steal. As Johnson was trying to get it to point guard Charlie Longmeier, the Cougars were able to deflect it and get the ball back, which led to Roberts getting wide open in the corner for a 3-pointer that put North up 40-38 with 26.1 seconds to play.

That shot proved to be the difference in the game.

“I think first of all, we did a really good job of following the defensive game plan,” Manns said. “We kept them out of the lane and took away their penetration. The difference in the game was a really good player. He stepped up and made shots, he made free throws, he hit that 3-pointer that put them ahead.

“There was a lot of traffic down there,” Manns said on the Owls’ late turnover. “It was just one play over 100 in the entire game.”

Roberts was the leading scorer with 28 points on the night, including two 3-pointers and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. North also got contributions from Luke Lindeman and Dawan Daniels, who both scored five points, and Shyy McDonald scored two.

Seymour only had three players score in the game. Fristch had 16, Perry had 12 and Johnson scored 10.

“I liked Bret’s tempo in the first half, and then Landon gets it going in the second half,” Manns said. “When we get good scoring out of our back court, and Jaylan gets 10 so we have three guys in double figures, but we need to get more out of some other guys.”

It was a heart-wrenching loss for the Owls, who have had a lot of games come down to the wire so far this season. Even though the results haven’t been what Seymour hoped for at 3-8 so far this season, it’s evident this team is close to breaking through and stringing some wins together.

The biggest reason for that is the mindset this group of players has, and the defensive identity that has taken shape over the last seven games.

“These kids aren’t going to quit,” Manns said. “The first four games of the year, we were giving up 62 points a game. That’s not acceptable, that’s not the way we play and that’s not Seymour basketball. The fifth game of the year, we corrected that and we’ve been better. We have to continue to play with that type of energy and defensive focus and continue to work on our execution on offense. We’re going to keep playing in these close games, and there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.”

The next game for the Owls will be this Saturday night at home against Columbus East.

Seymour’s Charlie Longmeier brings the ball up the floor against Bloomington North on Saturday night.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Seymour’s Bret Perry drills a 3-pointer to give the Owls a 17-14 lead midway through the second quarter against Bloomington North on Saturday.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Seymour’s Josh Rennekamp looks to pass during Saturday night’s game at Bloomington North.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune