Seymour season over with double-OT loss to S-D
Several times Tuesday night, it looked as though the Seymour Eagles would earn a first-round win in the District 2-AAA tournament over rival South-Doyle. But each time the Cherokees fought back, and in the end, it was nothing but heartbreak for the homestanding Seymour squad, hosting their first-ever AAA tournament.
The Eagles (17-12 overall) lost 78-77 in the double-overtime thriller, despite holding a one-point lead with just over four seconds remaining.
"That's rivalry games for you," Seymour coach Brian Jessie said. "Of course, this time a year, everybody's going to give everything they've got. I'm proud of the kids. It was a great game. If I was a fan of neither one of them, I'd have really enjoyed it. (But) it's tough, tough for our kids."
The late Eagles' lead came by way of a beautful behind-the-back pass from senior transfer Ethan Parks, who hit a steaking Peyton Lee under the basket for an easy layup and a 77-76 lead with five seconds to play.
After a timeout, the Cherokees (7-20) inbounded the ball to super-sophomore Jocquez Bruce, who'd been unstoppable on the dribble-drive for much of the night.
But as Bruce tried to split two Seymour defenders 60 feet away from the basket, one of the Eagles was whistled for a foul, and Bruce — who already had a game-high 24 points — stepped to the line with :03.9 to go.
Bruce had only hit four of his previous 10 free throw attempts in the game, but calmly walked to the line and sank his first, right in front of the blaring Seymour student section.
The Eagles took a timeout.
After the stop Bruce again walked to the line, shot and found nothing but net, giving South-Doyle a 78-77 advantage.
The Eagles didn't get another shot. A long pass over the halfcourt stripe was intercepted by the Cherokees, and the game was over.
Seymour wasn't without its chances to put the game away earlier.
After trailing for most of the game, the Eagles took a lead two minutes into the fourth quarter.
A 3-pointer from Douglas Maples and drive from D.J. Griffin extended that lead to five points, 50-45, midway through the fourth.
But the Cherokees battled back, tying the game 54-54 on a Bruce 3-ball with two minutes left.
Twice in the final 1:30, the Eagles had a pair of three-point leads, only to see the resilient Cherokees fight back.
South-Doyle's Brody Rollins canned a 3-pointer with just seconds left in regulation to knot the game at 69-69 and force the first overtime.
In the second OT, Seymour was their own worst enemy late. Leading 75-74, the Eagles missed four-straight free throws in the final 30 seconds, leaving the door wide open for South-Doyle.
Bruce scored on a drive to the bucket with under just seconds to go, putting Cherokee up 76-75, which set up Lee's go-ahead layup on the Parks pass.
It was then that Bruce buckled down and won the game for his Cherokees at the stripe.
Seymour's Griffin finished the game with 22 points and a mountain of rebounds, the stats for which aren't kept live at SHS. Teammate Gunner Gibson, who's still got another year in Blue and Gold, led the Eagles with 23 points.
Missed free throws were the story of the game for the Eagles.
The Blue and Gold made just 20-of-39 from the charity stripe on the night.
"That's been our Achilles' heel (all year)," Jessie said. "It really has. We (coaches) talk about it, and do different things at practice. But we try not to talk to the kids about it, because talking to the kids just gets in their head more."
South-Doyle advances to face Cherokee at 7:30 Thursday night at Seymour High in the quarterfinal round of the 2-AAA tournament.