The night after a crushing road defeat against Summit Conference rival Mansfield, Seymour High School varsity girls’ basketball coach Derrick Jessen was optimistic his ballclub would bounce back Friday in non-conference home action against School of the Ozarks.
His optimism was rewarded.
His Tigers played one of their best games of the season versus the visiting Patriots, securing a 67-27 victory behind the game-high 24 points of 5’7” sophomore standout Lillie Rasmussen.
“This was a good game for us as we enter perhaps our biggest week of the season with a pair of games against the top-two teams in our (Class 2) district,” Jessen said.
“After the loss at Mansfield, we needed a win. We needed some confidence. This accomplished both for us.”
Friday’s home win improved the Tiger record to 9-12 this season as Seymour matched its victory total from last season with at least three weeks remaining in the campaign.
It was Rasmussen who led Seymour’s offensive charge with her aforementioned 24 points on 4-for-10 shooting from three-point range. She also had 8 rebounds and 4 steals.
Senior Crystal Misemer added to the Tiger attack with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals.
“Crystal might have played her best all-around game of the season,” Jessen said. “She played a complete game on both ends of the court. When (Misemer and Rasmussen) are both playing like they played against School of the Ozarks, we’re a tough game for any district opponent.”
Seymour led from start to finish.
The Tigers were ahead 20-12 after one quarter.
That margin grew to 42-16 by halftime and 65-22 entering the final frame.
During the second and third quarters, Seymour outscored the Patriots 45-10.
There was running clock throughout the fourth quarter as the Tigers cruised to a 40-point win.
Adding 9 points and 4 assists to the Tiger attack was freshman guard Alleigh Warren, while juniors Hailey Felton and Madi Kyle each scored 6.
Freshman Katelynn Smith had 3 points, while classmate Jadyn Johnson chipped in with 1 point.
Jessen said the Tigers shot 46.8 percent from the field while committing only 13 turnovers.
In comparison, School of the Ozarks had 33 turnovers and shot less than 30 percent from the field.
“We needed a win and got it,” Jessen concluded.
“There’s a path for us end this season and enter districts on a high note. We just have to play our best basketball, and (Friday’s win) was a good start for that stretch.”
Narrow loss at Mansfield
Last Thursday night, the Tigers traveled to Mansfield to face the host Lions in a key league showdown.
In the end, Mansfield won 65-55 in a game much closer than the 10-point margin indicated.
“This was a close game both ways all night long,” Jessen said. “Until the final minute of the game, it was up for grabs, and we just faltered late.”
After one quarter, Seymour led 20-18, then Mansfield bounced back to lead 34-30 at the half.
Entering the final stanza, the Lion lead was only two points at 41-39.
“We opened the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws to tie it at 41-41,” Jessen explained. “Ultimately, the difference came at the free-throw line. They shot 10 more free throws than us, and that really was the difference.”
The loss dropped the Tigers’ conference mark to 2-3.
Seymour shot 50 percent from the field.
The Tigers also kept their turnovers in check, committing only 15.
However, Mansfield had just one turnover.
“That’s hard to grasp, isn’t it?” Jessen questioned. “But that’s 100-percent accurate. Mansfield had just one turnover for the entire game. In turn, they scored 11 points off our turnovers, while we didn’t score a single point from a Mansfield turnover. Again, that’s the ballgame.”
Leading the Tigers’ offensive charge was 5’9” senior forward Karli Henry with a game-high 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field. She also hit 5 of 7 free throws and grabbed a team-best 8 rebounds.
Adding 17 points (including 5-for-6 accuracy from three-point range) was Rasmussen.
Misemer had 9 points and a team-best 10 assists.
Felton chipped in with 8 points and 7 rebounds, while Warren rounded out the scoring with 2.
“I’m proud of the effort,” Jessen said.
“We went into their home court and gave a good team everything they wanted. In the end, we didn’t come out with a win, but these types of games are what will make us better for this season’s final stretch.”
This week, the Tigers play two key district games against Dora and Gainesville, respectively.
The Dora game on the road was scheduled for Monday, but inclement weather forced the postponement.
“We’re looking at playing Dora on Wednesday (tonight),” Jessen said.
Game time is 5 p.m.
On Thursday, Gainesville comes to Seymour.
Action starts at 6 p.m.
“As it stands now, Dora and Gainesville probably are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in our district, with us the No. 3 seed,” Jessen concluded. “That changes (in terms of seeds) if we can win one or both of these games.”