Early on, it appeared the Seymour High School varsity boys’ basketball team would cruise to a home victory in its 2019-20 season opener last Friday night.
The Tigers led 19-10 over visiting Chadwick, a Class 1 district champion a year ago with all five starters returning, after one quarter, then Seymour’s edge grew to as many as 13 points early in the second frame.
But long-distance shots didn’t fall for the Tigers.
In turn, the Tiger lead also dropped.
By halftime, Chadwick entered the break with a 31-29 lead after outscoring Seymour 21-10 in the second quarter.
When the final buzzer sounded, the rival Cardinals had escaped Webster County with a 69-66 win.
“It’s a tough loss ... a crushing loss,” Tiger coach Chris Hastings said just minutes after the game.
“We had our chances to put (Chadwick) away early in the second quarter, but we settled for shooting three-pointers and got away from what got us the lead, which was passing the ball and getting it inside.”
Once Chadwick erased the Tigers’ lead, Hastings knew his team was in for a fight.
“At halftime, I told the boys this game probably would come down to the final few possessions, and it did,” he said.
“They executed late. We didn’t. And they won.”
The loss overshadowed a stellar performance from Seymour standout Trint Sampson, a 6’1” senior forward. Sampson finished the game with 21 points, 22 rebounds and 6 assists.
Adding 17 points was 6’0” senior guard Carson Sturdefant, who hit four shots from long range.
However, three-point shooting — or a lack of it — was the Tigers’ undoing in the home defeat.
For the game, Seymour was just 4 for 30 on three-pointers, tragic 13-percent accuracy. Sturdefant was 4 for 11 from behind the arc; the rest of the squad was a combined 0 for 19.
“When I talked to the boys after the game, I guessed that we were 4 for 30,” Hastings said. “I just sort of threw that number out there. It’s sad to know it’s accurate.”
Senior Alan Ferrier, a 6’0” forward, added 11 points and 7 rebounds.
With 6 points each were 6’3” senior forward Skyler Newman and 6’1” junior guard Evan Crump.
Senior guard Steele Johnson rounded out the team’s offensive attack with 5 points.
Compounding the Tigers’ trouble in three-point shooting was a poor performance at the free-throw line. Seymour was just 10 for 21 (47 percent) from the charity stripe.
“Before the season started, I said that we had to hit open shots to be successful,” Hastings said. “We didn’t do that.
“We missed a ton of threes, and we didn’t hit our free throws. If a few of those fall, just a couple of them, then we win this ballgame.”
After three quarters, Seymour led 52-51.
Early in the fourth quarter, there were four lead changes and three ties. Chadwick pulled ahead for good with 3:42 left in the final frame; however, in the game’s fi nal three minutes, the Tigers had four three-point shots that would have tied the game.
None of them fell.
“We’ve just got to move on ... realize that this game is behind us,” Hastings concluded.
Seymour plays next Tuesday at Cabool.
Action starts at 6 p.m.