There’s a good chance Friday’s Hoosier Hills Conference showdown between Jeffersonville and Seymour will be replayed a week from Friday in the Jennings County Sectional.
If Friday is any indication, it will be a heck of a semifinal. Jeff got 24 points combined from its starting backcourt in a 51-43 victory over the Owls at William S. Johnson Arena.
“It was a great game,” Jeffersonville coach Mark Warren said. “It was a great game to be a part of. Both teams competed and played well.”
The Red Devils took the lead for good late in the first quarter on a bucket by Taylor Sykes, but Seymour pulled within 47-43 with 48.6 left on a baseline jumper by Lindsey Hume.
However, Sykes knocked down a pair of free throws, Seymour’s Morgan Ritz missed a 3. Red Devil senior Makenzi Johnson pulled down the rebound and hit two free throws to seal Jeff’s 16th regular-season victory. The Devils had 16 in the past two season combined.
“When I took the job, people told me we’d be lucky to go .500,” Warren recalled. “I told them they were crazy. I told them I was looking at [winning 15 regular-season games] and they thought I was crazy. We end up with 16, so we’re tickled to death. I couldn’t ask for much more.”
The Red Devils finished the 2013-14 regular season unbeaten at home. Now they’ll have to go on the road for tournament play. The good news is, as they say, defense travels.
Jeff’s defense was outstanding again Friday, forcing turnovers and bad Seymour shots throughout the night.
“I thought the biggest difference in the game was obviously their quickness,” Seymour second-year coach Jason Longmeier said of the Devils. “We’ve got some things we can do to counter that, we feel, if we play them again. We just feel like if we play these guys again Friday night, we have to get better looks.”
In order to play Jeff again, Seymour (11-7, 3-3 HHC) will have to get by New Albany (7-12, 2-5) in Tuesday’s Class 4A sectional first round contest.
“We all know each other so well,” Longmeier said. “It just comes down to which team executes best. It’s going to come down to who’s physically and mentally tougher in those games. It’s going to be a challenge for us and I know [New Albany feels] the same way.”
“It’s going to be a great game between [Seymour] and New Albany, and we’re just going to take the opponent that’s in front of us,” Warren said. “If we play the way we played tonight, we’re going to be all right.”
Jeff senior Haley Vogen hit two free throws to break an early 5-5 tie, but Ritz countered with her second of three 3-pointers for an 8-7 Seymour advantage.
“She knocked down some shots early,” Longmeier said of Ritz. “She’s a shooter. As a spot shooter, she’s as good as there is in this conference. We have to find a way to get her some more open looks.”
The Red Devils then countered with a 7-0 run to end the first quarter and took a 16-8 lead on a Vogen bucket on their first possession of the second quarter.
“Against a team like this, you have to avoid 8-0 runs,” Longmeier said. “You can afford to give up five-, six-point runs. You just can’t give up eight or more. That makes it too hard to come back.”
Jeff pushed the lead to 24-16 with 2:40 left in the second quarter before the Owls closed the half on a 5-0 run. All five points during the spurt were scored by Emilee Pollman, who scored six of her 13 points in the second period.
“I thought Emilee did a really nice job,” Longmeier said. “I thought she battled her tail off. Defensively, she did some good things also, so I thought she had a great game.”
Sykes hit a 3-pointer to open the third quarter for a 29-21 Jeffersonville lead. It was still 34-27 when Pollman knocked down a 3 to get the Owls within 34-30 late in the third quarter.
“There was a stretch there in the third quarter when they knocked down some shots and we really didn’t get any good looks,” Longmeier said.
Johnson scored the first five points of the fourth quarter and the Devils led 41-33 with 5:06 left. Later in the quarter, Sykes scored four straight points to give Jeff its largest advantage at 45-33 with 3:49 remaining before the Owls fought back to get within 47-43 with 48.6 left.
Sykes led all scorers with 14 points. She also had five rebounds and four steals in the victory.
“As soon as she figures out how good she really is, people are going to have a hard time staying in front of her,” Warren said of Sykes. “She’s only a sophomore, but when she plays confident, she’s outstanding. Her biggest deficiency is her own mind. She carried us for a nice little stretch there.”
Senior Chelsea Marshall added 10 points and eight boards for the Devils. Aurreeshae Hines had four points and a team-best five assists.
Before taking the floor for the sectional, Seymour will close its regular season tonight at home against defending state champion and Class 4A No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence (18-1, 6-0). The Stars have already clinched their second consecutive HHC crown.
JEFFERSONVILLE 51, SEYMOUR 43
Seymour 8 13 9 13—43
Jeffersonville 14 12 10 15—51
Seymour (11-7, 3-3 HHC): Emilee Pollman 13, Morgan Reitz 13, Kayla Griffin 4, Mikayla Fee 6, Maci Lubker 2, Lindsey Hume 5.
Jeffersonville (16-5, 5-2): Chelsea Lewis 10, Nycia Ford 6, Taylor Sykes 14, Haley Vogen 8, Aurreeshae Hines 4, Hailey Lacy 2, Makenzi Johnson 7.
3-point field goals: Seymour 6 (Emilee Pollman 3, Morgan Ritz 2, Kayla Griffin); Jeffersonville 3 (Taylor Sykes 2, Makenzi Johnson).
Free throws: Seymour 13-14, Jeffersonville 10-14.
Personal fouls: Seymour 14, Jeffersonville 15.