Jennings County played the aggressor Monday evening in varsity girls basketball action, and it paid off in convincing fashion as the Panthers put visiting Seymour in a deep first-half hole en route to a 57-45 Hoosier Hills Conference victory.
The Owls (9-6, 2-2 HHC), came out flat against their pumped-up opponents and failed to find any kind of flow as they scored just three points in the first quarter and a total of 10 for the half.
Coach Jason Longmeier’s squad didn’t connect on its first field goal until the 5:05 mark in the second period and was harassed into committing 14 turnovers.
Jennings County (7-6, 2-3), meanwhile, took full advantage of the situation by building an eight-point lead after the opening quarter and increasing the lead to 28-10 by intermission after outscoring Seymour 17-7 in the second stanza.
“That was the worst first half of basketball I ever saw,” said Longmeier, whose team played its third game in five days. “They took it to us. They challenged us, and we didn’t answer the bell.”
The Owls struggled against a Panthers defense that pressured the ball, shut down the passing lanes and crashed the boards to create offensive opportunities on the other end of the floor.
“We’ve been preaching all season for the girls to be aggressive and take advantage of what’s being created,” said Jennings County coach Carrie Manowitz. “I’ve been very pleased with the way we have stepped up as a team, especially since we’ve been dealing with a variety of injuries.”
A layup by Kayli Wilson, who ripped down a game-leading 10 rebounds, gave her team a 13-3 lead at the 6:17 mark in the second quarter. Sidney Gerkin followed with a pair of 3-pointers over the next three minutes to push the advantage to 22-10.
The steady guard finished with 11 points, and Baylee Krueger scored 13 and grabbed seven rebounds, while Shelbi Wright came off the bench to lead the Panthers with 14 points.
Perhaps even more impressive for Jennings County fans was watching Halea Petro lead the team defense as she recorded six of her crew’s 12 steals. She also provided key rebounds and relentless pursuit.
“That’s what Halea does best,” Manowitz said. “She comes off the bench and is ready to play hard.”
Despite trailing by as much as 19 points early in the second half, Seymour was far from folding as the Owls made a solid run in the third period to outscore the hosts 16-6 and pull to within 36-28 early into the fourth period.
Maci Lubker, who paced Seymour with 17 points, joined forces with Morgan Ritz (15 points) to fuel the rally.
But the guests seemingly ran out of steam in the final quarter, enabling the Panthers to regain control of the contest.
“We just extended ourselves too much after making that run,” Longmeier said. “We got into foul trouble, and they were able to sub in players more fresh than ours.”