After nearly scoring an upset in the opening round of the Walnut Grove Holiday Classic, the Seymour varsity boys’ basketball team bounced back Saturday in the consolation round, cruising to a 61-44 decision over Macks Creek for the Tigers’ second victory of the 2020-21 campaign.
Seymour fell 52-46 to Conway, the tourney’s No. 5 seed, in first-round action last Tuesday, Dec. 22. The Tigers led the contest at halftime.
Saturday’s 17-point win over Macks Creek advanced the Tigers to the 16-team event’s consolation semifinals, where Seymour met No. 9 Pierce City early Tuesday morning.
The win improved the Tiger record to 2-6.
“The effort against Macks Creek was very good, and it was our best shooting game of the season,” Tiger head coach Chris Hastings said. “All around, everyone contributed.”
For the first time in eight games, Seymour shot better than 50 percent from the field, finishing at 53.2 percent after hitting 25 of 47 shots. From three-point range, the Tigers connected at a 47-percent clip (9 for 19).
“Our defensive effort also was very good,” Hastings said.
“We took an early lead, then slowly built that lead as the game continued.
“With about two minutes left (in the game), our lead was at 23 points.”
Seymour led 17-11 after one quarter.
That lead was 33-19 by halftime.
“Right out of the gate, we hit shots,” Hastings explained.
“Eli (Nunnally) hit a couple of three-pointers, and several other guys also hit shots. We scored both from the outside and the inside ... the balance was very good.”
The Tigers were up 47-34 after three frames.
Leading the team’s offensive attack was 5’8” junior guard Payton Bryant with a game-high 22 points. He was 8 for 13 from the field, including 5-for-9 accuracy from behind the three-point line.
Bryant also chipped in with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
Post player Bryson Benson added 10 points (on 5-for-8 shooting) and 8 rebounds.
Nunnally and senior forward Brock Pearce each had 9 points, while senior Nathaniel Hosiner scored 8. Sophomore Bill Daily rounded out the team’s scoring with 3 points.
Pearce grabbed 7 rebounds and handed out 3 assists. Hosiner had 4 rebounds.
Daily led the Tigers with 6 assists, while Nunnally handed out 3 and added 3 rebounds.
Seymour out-rebounded Macks Creek 28 to 25.
“We needed this win,” Hastings said. “Since our - win over Cabool, we’ve had a rough stretch where we played several really good teams, then also lost a couple of close ones.”
One of those close defeats came four days’ prior against Conway as Seymour lost by six points to the rival Bears.
In the Dec. 22 contest, the Tigers trailed 14-13 after one quarter, then led 23-19 at halftime.
By the end of the third quarter, Conway held a slight lead at 35-34.
“We played good basketball for the most part,” Hastings said of the Conway contest. “The worst thing for us was 21 turnovers — most of them self-inflicted mistakes.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Bears expanded their lead between six and eight points.
“They took the lead for good late in the third quarter, then they extended the lead early in the fourth,” Hastings noted.
“We struggled to catch up ... just couldn’t make shots.”
Regardless, Hastings was pleased with the Tigers’ effort.
“Some may disagree with this, but I feel like we’re the better team,” he said.
“Conway is a mature, senior-laden team. They are a solid team. But we slowed it down, played a 1-2-2 zone, and we kept the game at our pace. If we can just eliminate the silly turnovers, we’ll win these types of games.”
Bryant again paced the Tiger offense with 17 points. He also had 4 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds.
Benson chipped in with his first double-double of the season with season-high totals of 14 points (connecting on 7 of 11 shots) and 12 rebounds.
Pearce added 8 points and 9 rebounds, while Nunnally had 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Daily, who battled foul trouble, was held to 3 points.
Seymour out-rebounded Conway 30 to 20.
However, the Bears scored 19 points off Tiger turnovers, while Seymour scored only nine points from Bear mistakes.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Hastings concluded.
“It’s hard to beat a good team with 21 turnovers.”
Next week, the Tigers again will be in tournament action at The Seymour Bank Winter Classic.