Despite a crushing conclusion to the contest, Seymour varsity girls’ basketball coach Derrick Jessen is quick to focus on the positive aspects of his ballclub’s last-second 44-43 loss at Chadwick last Thursday.
Seymour led the host Cardinals, who entered the game with a 6-1 record, by a 43-41 count as the final few seconds of the clock ticked.
Then with 1.7 seconds remaining, Chadwick connected on a three-point shot to defeat the Tigers by a single point.
“It’s a heartbreaker to lose by one point, especially in a scenario like that,” Jessen explained.
“But at the same time, I’ve focused on drawing positives from this game. We played really well. We did have a few costly turnovers late in the game, but we traveled to the home court of a very good team, led them most of the night and lost in the final two seconds.”
Although the Tiger record fell to 2-5, Jessen said the play of his squad over the past two weeks has been excellent.
“This is a different team than the one that opened the season at Forsyth about a month ago,” he said. “There is absolutely no doubt that we’re getting better. And that improvement is evident in each game.”
Against Chadwick, Seymour led 13-10 after one quarter and 24-16 at the half.
Entering the final frame, the Tigers trailed 29-28.
“We were up by five (points) with about 1:30 left to play,” Jessen said. “We made a few mistakes down the stretch, had a couple of big turnovers. But this is how you learn.
“Before (Chadwick), I don’t think this group of girls had ever had a good team on the ropes. In the past, these are the games we lost by 20 or more points. And we’ll learn lessons from this loss. If we have to lose a game, I’d much rather lose one where we had a chance to win versus the alternative of getting blown out.”
The defeat spoiled another stellar performance by 5’7” sophomore guard Lillie Rasmussen.
In only her second season of organized basketball, Rasmussen posted her fourth consecutive game with 18 points or more, scoring a game-high 19 at Chadwick on 8-for-15 shooting from the field.
She also had 7 rebounds and 7 steals.
“Lillie is who we’re beginning to run our offense through in most half-court situations,” Jessen said.
“It’s been an adjustment for some of the girls, but they are buying in as the results are positive.”
Senior Karli Henry, a 5’9” forward, added 7 points and 5 rebounds, while senior Crystal Misemer had 6 points, a team-high 11 rebounds and 3 assists.
Junior Hailey Felton had 6 points and 4 rebounds.
Freshmen guards Katelynn Smith and Alleigh Warren rounded out the Tigers’ scoring. Smith scored 3 points, while Warren chipped in with 2.
“We’re beginning to develop some depth with our freshmen,” Jessen noted. “They are starting to give us significant minutes off the bench.”
Next action for Seymour arrives Saturday in the opening round of tourney play in Mountain Grove.
The Tigers take on top-seeded Salem at 10:30 a.m.
Online, Girls' Bracket: https://www.webstercountycitizen.com/sports/article_d0eb773e-3e30-11eb-8d87-2b6b2535b956.html