Just short: Panthers fall by one in regional final

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

OWEN HENRIKSEN, Plymouth guard, drives to the basket past a Seymour defender in Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley OWEN HENRIKSEN, Plymouth guard, drives to the basket past a Seymour defender in Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley SEYMOUR – The host Seymour Thunder rallied in the fourth quarter to edge the Plymouth Panthers, 62-61, in a thrilling, downto the wire battle in a Division 2 boys regional basketball championship game Saturday night.

“We played as hard as we could. We came together, we just came up one possession short, and a lot had to do with them. They made great plays” said Panther head coach Jason Duff.

“It’s tough to lose this way because we had a good enough team to win. I’m proud of my team.”

“It was a great high school basketball game,” said Thunder head coach Jon Murphy. “You hated to see either team lose. It could’ve gone either way.”

“It was bittersweet,” said Duff. “I enjoyed the game except for the outcome.”

Brian Heiden sank two free throws with 7.8 seconds left to clinch the win as the Thunder went up 62- 58. Kollin Neils hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 62-61.

Seymour, a No. 2 seed, upped its record to 20-4. The Thunder are ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press D-2 poll. The sixth-seeded Panthers finished 17-7.

Heiden missed two free throws with 19 seconds left and PHS trailing 60-58. Cory Unger missed a three-point shot from the left wing with nine seconds remaining on the Panthers’ ensuing possession and the ball went out of bounds as PHS attempted a rebound. Heiden was then fouled and he made the two foul shots.

Cory had an open look – it just came up a hair short,” said Duff.

Seymour jumped out to a 7-0 lead at the outset but PHS answered with a 16-3 run to go ahead 16-10 late in the first quarter. Unger sparked the rally with eight points, including a three-point goal and a three-point play. Unger had nine points in the opening period to lead PHS which led 18-13.

The Thunder outscored PHS 16-9 in the second quarter, ignited by Sandy Cohen’s nine points, to grab a 29-27 halftime lead. Cohen exploded for 18 of his game-high 25 points in the first half. Unger erupted for 13 of his 20 points in the opening half.

Junior guard Kollin Neils ignited the Panthers’ attack in the third quarter which saw PHS have a 17- 11 scoring edge to take a 44-40 lead. Neils hit 10 of his team-high 21 points in the period, including two treys.

PHS led by as many as eight in the third period at 44-36.

The Thunder outscored PHS 22-17 in the fourth quarter. Junior guard John Powless gave Seymour a big lift off the bench with six points and two key steals. PHS was hurt by five turnovers in the final period against Seymour’s pressure defense.

Cohen, a very quick, athletic junior guard at 6-feet-5, had an impressive overall game. He also had a team-high 11 rebounds, four steals and five assists. Cohen hit two three-pointers and was outstanding driving to the basket.

“Cohen is an outstanding player. He controlled that game for them,” said Duff. “He can shoot and he handles the ball very well.”

Unger and Owen Henriksen paced PHS in rebounds with five each. Henriksen had a team-high five assists. Unger led in steals with two.

Seymour outscored PHS 22-12 at the foul line.

“The kids from Plymouth played so hard. It was two evenly matched teams fighting it out. It was a good team effort,” said Murphy.



Score by Quarters
Plymouth…............18 9 17 17 – 61
Seymour.................13 16 11 22 – 62

Plymouth scoring: Cory Unger 20, Kollin Neils 21, Owen Henriksen 3, Jordan Mueller 4, Tom Jankowski 11, Eric Nygaard 2.

Seymour scoring: Dakota Oskey 7, Sandy Cohen 25, Casey Jefson 6, John Powless 10, Brian Heiden 10, Alex Buchholtz 4.

Three-point goals: Unger 2, Neils 2, Henriksen 1, Jankowski 1, Oskey 1, Cohen 2, Jefson 2, Heiden 1.

Field goals: Plymouth 21-44, 48%; Seymour 16-32, 50%. Free throws: Plymouth 12-16, 75%; Seymour 22-30, 73%.

Rebounds: Plymouth 25, Seymour 22. Turnovers: Plymouth 13, Seymour 13.

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