Historically, in previous Christmas-break holiday tournaments, the record of the Seymour High School varsity boys’ basketball team has been less than stellar.
Since 2000, the Tigers have won more than one game in a year-end tourney only once.
Often, Seymour has been an underachieving high seed.
Until this year.
Seeded 10th at the 16-team Walnut Grove Holiday Classic, head coach Chris Hastings’ ballclub opened the event with a pair of double-digit upset victories.
In opening-round action on Saturday, Dec. 21, Seymour cruised to a 66-46 win over No. 7 Fair Play, which entered the tourney with a 6-1 record.
Last Thursday night, the upset string continued, this time over second-seeded Forsyth, as the Tigers won 67-54 over the 8-2 Panthers.
The two victories improved the Tiger record to 4-4.
After an 0-3 start, Seymour has won four of five games.
“Without a doubt, this was our best all-around game of the year,” Hastings said of the Forsyth win.
“Forsyth is very good. They are a skilled team. But our game plan worked out perfectly. And the boys executed. We hit shots ... a lot of them.”
Against Forsyth, Seymour connected on six first-half shots from three-point range — six from 6’0” senior guard Carson Sturdefant and three from 6’0” senior guard Steele Johnson.
En route, the Tigers built a 39-20 halftime lead.
“That’s probably the best half of basketball I’ve had one of my Seymour teams ever play,” Hastings said. “Everything went right.”
Forsyth began to rally in the second half.
By the end of the third quarter, after the Panthers outscored Seymour 17-6, the Tiger lead was trimmed to seven points at 45-38.
“(Forsyth) cut our lead to five (points) on a couple of occasions in the fourth quarter,” Hastings said. “Honestly, I’m glad that happened. We rallied past that and ended up pushing our lead back into double digits over the final three minutes of the game.”
Hastings again noted that Forsyth was a quality opponent.
“They are the second-best team we’ve faced this season, only behind Hartville,” he said. “We played great as a team. It was a complete effort.”
Leading the Tigers in scoring was Sturdefant, who had a career-high 25 points, connecting on 7 of 11 three-pointers.
Trint Sampson, a 6’1” senior forward, added 18 points and 14 rebounds. In eight games this season, Sampson has recorded double-figure points and rebounds in every single contest.
Johnson added 17 points and 5 assists.
Cooper Hickey, a 5’8” senior guard, added 4 points, while 6’3” senior forward Skyler Newman scored 3.
“Cooper (Hickey) made a couple of huge baskets for us in the third quarter,” Hastings noted. “We came out flat in the second half. Forsyth was cutting our lead. Shots weren’t falling. Then Cooper stepped up and hit a couple of big shots ... two of the biggest shots of the game.”
In first-round action against Fair Play, Seymour jumped out to a 34-18 halftime lead and cruised to a 66-46 win over the higher-seeded Hornets of Polk County.
Sampson paced the Tiger scoring attack with a game-high 23 points. He also grabbed 14 rebounds.
Sturdefant scored 15, while Newman added 12. Johnson had 8 points.
Senior Alan Ferrier netted 6, while Hickey rounded out the scoring with 2 points.
The Tigers played two more games at Walnut Grove after reaching the tourney’s semifinals with the Forsyth win. The first was played Saturday night, while final-round action was set for Monday night.