Owls stifle Lions for second straight victory

Seymour’s boys basketball team made it look easy during a subjugating 61-23 victory over Salem on Saturday afternoon.

The Owls (6-11) held the Lions entirely scoreless in the first quarter and only allowed five points by halftime.

Not surprisingly, Seymour’s defense fueled its offense, which generated a quick 16-0 lead thanks mainly to nine first-quarter Salem turnovers. The Owls enjoyed a comfortable 31-5 advantage when the second quarter closed.

“That was about as good a team defensive effort as we’ve had,” Seymour head coach Kirk Manns said. “I thought we were able to take away just about everything that they were trying to do.”

Saturday’s effort is the second-best defensive showing of Manns’ four-season, 84-game run as head coach. Last season, the Owls held Shelbyville under 20 points (54-18) in a similarly lopsided victory.

Seymour has kept opponents under 30 points 11 times during Manns’ tenure, including twice in a three-day stretch last week. Two days prior to defeating Salem, the Owls smothered Madison’s offense during a 47-27 triumph.

Those results were season-low outputs for both Salem and Madison.

“That takes a lot of discipline,” Manns said. “It takes a lot of not just physical but mental energy to sustain your effort. We’ve been able to sustain our physical and our mental effort.”

Of Salem’s 19 turnovers, 13 came in the first half. Jaylan Johnson, Eli Meyer, Charlie Longmeier, Bret Perry and Landon Fritsch all registered steals to help Seymour establish early control of the scoreboard.

“Our biggest thing is focus,” Longmeier said. “Earlier in the season, we were allowing penetration. Then we would have to help, and they would get wide-open 3s. It seemed like everybody was hitting everything against us. But we’re locked in on the defensive end now, and that translates to the offensive end.”

As Seymour’s point guard, no one sees the causative effect that defense has on offense more clearly than Longmeier.

When the 5-foot-9 senior wasn’t scoring fast-break layups, he was feeding teammates for easy buckets. Longmeier ended with seven points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

“We were good in transition today,” Longmeier said. “We were getting the ball up the floor, and I was seeing my teammates well. The plays were opening up for me, and I was able to dish it.”

Eleven of the 12 Owls to see the floor finished with at least two points. Fritsch led all scorers with 13 points. Johnson (nine) and Longmeier followed, while Meyer and Evan Smith each added six.

Seymour built its lead to 29-2 late in the first half and then swelled the difference to 38 in the fourth quarter.

“We were 4-11 coming into (last) week. That’s the reality of it,” Manns said, assessing his team as it enters the final weeks of the season. “I give our guys a lot of credit. They’ve continued to work hard. No one has given up. Everyone’s still playing hard.

“We’ve got a good opportunity here. We’ve got a little momentum. Three weeks from now, we’ll be playing in the sectional, so hopefully, we’ll just keep growing in that momentum and that confidence.”

From a player’s perspective, Longmeier said the Owls’ locker room remains upbeat about the remainder of the season.

“I think we’re playing our best basketball right now,” he said. “Every sectional opponent we’ve played, we’ve been in the game with them. We’re confident. We feel like we’ve got a good shot at this. We’ve just got to get better these last few games.”

Box score

At Seymour

Owls 61, Lions 23

Salem;0;5;10;8;—;23

Seymour;14;17;13;17;—;61

Salem (1-17): Kaleb Tucker 4 0-1 8, Justin Stephenson 2 2-2 6, Hayden Baughman 0 3-4 3, Kellen Humphrey 1 1-4 3, Jaden Cheatwood 0 2-2 2, Aidan Short 0 1-2 1, Holden Collins 0 0-0 0, Noah Risen 0 0-0 0, Totals 7 9-15 23.

Seymour (6-11): Landon Fritsch 6 0-0 13, Jaylan Johnson 4 1-2 9, Charlie Longmeier 3 0-0 7, Eli Meyer 3 0-2 6, Evan Smith 3 0-0 6, Bret Perry 2 0-0 5, Ethan Silcox 2 0-2 5, Michael Brooks 2 0-0 4, Josh Rennekamp 1 0-0 2, Cory Robinson 1 0-0 2, Seth Montgomery 1 0-0 2, AJ Harrell 0 0-0 0, Totals 28 1-6 61.

3-point goals: Seymour 4 (Perry, Longmeier, Fritsch, Silcox)

Rebounds: Salem 14 (Tucker 5), Seymour 28 (Longmeier 5, Robinson 4)

Turnovers: Salem 19, Seymour 7

Fouls: Salem 8, Seymour 16

Junior varsity

Seymour 40, Salem 32

Seymour (8-9): AJ Harrell 11, Parker Thompson 11, Ross Pumphrey 7, Nolan Bartels 6, Ty Tormoehlen 5.