SEYMOUR, Ind. – With a familiar face absent from the Jeffersonville sideline Tuesday night, the Red Devils were denied a return trip to the Sectional 15 semifinals.
Sectional host Seymour rallied to force overtime and held off Jeffersonville down the stretch of a 54-53 win – its first postseason victory since 2007. The Red Devils were without head coach Joe Luce, who was reportedly placed on administrative leave for Tuesday’s matchup. Assistant Sherron Wilkerson, a former standout, took over for Jeffersonville in the losing effort.
Tyler Bloom hit three fourth-quarter 3-pointers on the way to 17 points, and Alan Perry scored 18 to pace the Owls to the first-round upset, which marked their first win over the Red Devils since 2007. Jeffersonville won 11 straight over the Owls and 35 of 39 entering Tuesday’s game. The Owls (9-14) advance to Friday’s Sectional 15 semifinals versus Floyd Central (18-4) at 6 p.m. The Red Devils’ season ended at 14-11.
“Games like this, they’re about survival,” Wilkerson said. “It’s the tournament. It’s the first round of sectionals. We’re playing Seymour, who’s up-and-coming. They’ve found their identity. We’re playing on their home floor. They’ve got a lot to play for. They’re energetic, and it’s a tough situation to come into. When you’re in that situation, all your fine, small, minute details that you take for granted is really what matters.”
Bailey Falkenstein led the way with 17 points on Tuesday night. The junior is one of several players set to return to the Red Devils next season. Mike Minton and Cameron Northern will graduate off this year’s team.
“The pain of life is what makes us grow,” Wilkerson said. “It’s unfortunate that you have to live with pain at the time, but if you really learn a lesson from it and put it behind you, then you realize it. Unfortunately, it’s just our turn to be in this position. But I can tell you this: Jeffersonville is on its way back.”
The Red Devils overcame a slow start offensively. Falkenstein netted Jeffersonville’s first basket with 4:43 left in the first quarter after an 0-for-5 start. The junior’s second bucket two minutes later gave the visitors a 9-4 lead, but a 3-pointer from the Owls’ Ty McCory cut Seymour’s deficit to 10-9 entering the second quarter.
Jeffersonville began the second on a 4-0 spurt before the Owls answered two and a half minutes in. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Gabe Gallahar and Joe LaGrange upped the Red Devils’ advantage to 20-11 midway through the period, though, and Jeffersonville led 25-19 at the break. The Red Devils shot 9 of 26 in the first half but turned the ball over just twice compared to Seymour’s seven miscues.
The Red Devils’ six-point margin held before a Seymour run just after the midway point of the third quarter. A Bloom 3-pointer brought the Owls within 30-28 with 3:13 showing, and the hosts stayed within three at the end of the third, 34-31. Perry led all scorers with five points in the period.
A Bloom 3-pointer tied the score at 34 to begin the fourth, and another from distance knotted it at 40 with 2:33 remaining. McCory’s second 3-pointer brought the Owls within 46-43 with just 24.6 seconds left. After another 3-pointer made for a two-point game with 10 seconds left, Falkenstein split two at the line, leaving the door open for a tie. Bloom took advantage. A 3-pointer, his third of the fourth quarter, with 2.8 seconds left forced overtime.
“(Seymour has) done a really good job of building this program,” Wilkerson said. “And they shot the lights out. … They did a really good job of taking it to us. We got on our heels a little bit. We became passive, didn’t really get our mojo going, if you will. Never really found a rhythm, so that made it difficult for us.”
In the extra period, a free throw from freshman Tre Coleman gave the Red Devils a one-point lead with 1:02 left, but Perry responded with a 3-point play that lifted the Owls to a 54-52 advantage with nine seconds showing. Jacob Jones had a chance to tie it at the line for Jeffersonville after drawing a foul, but he missed the second.
“There’s no substitute for experience,” Wilkerson said. “We have two freshman we play a fair amount. I thought those guys, for the most part, did a good job. But again, that inexperience was really difficult to replace.”
Sectional 15 opening round at Seymour
Seymour 54, Jeffersonville 53, OT
Owls (9-14): Alan Perry 18p, 2a; Tyler Bloom 17p, 5r; Tiller Cummings 2p, 6r; Ty McCory 6p; Dylan Wilson 5p; Alex Hofer 4p, 2r; Jordan Miller 2p
Red Devils (14-11): Bailey Falkenstein 17p, 4r; Gerrin Moore 2p, 5r; Tre Coleman 3p, 8r; Jacob Jones 6p, 2a; Mike Minton 3p; Joe LaGrange 9p; Cameron Northern 6p; Antonio Thompson 2p; Gabe Gallahar 5p