By Steve Williams

It’s no secret that the key to success in basketball is a team’s shooting accuracy.

And that was clearly noticeable Thursday night as Seymour’s girls scorched Carter 70-19 in the opening game of the District 3-3A tournament at Jim Williams Gymnasium in Strawberry Plains.

The Lady Eagles shot 56 percent from the field overall, 44 percent behind the 3-point arc (8 for 18) and 75 percent at the foul line.

On the other side of things, the Lady Hornets played hard, but it was one of those nights that the ball would hardly go in. They made 1 of 15 field goal attempts in the first half and finished the game 6 of 33 (18 percent). Behind the 3-point line, only 1 of their 14 attempts was successful. At the foul line, Carter made 6 of 11 (55 percent).

“Seymour is a good team,” said first-year Carter Head Coach Parker McNew. “They’ve been around and we are building a program. Greg (Hernandez) is a good coach and had them ready to play. We didn’t come ready to play and I’ll take part of the blame for that.

“We didn’t shoot very well tonight. It wouldn’t fall,” added McNew. “It wasn’t for lack of effort. We got shots out there, but … I mean the girls played hard, it’s just when we shoot like that, it’ll be tough to beat a good team like Seymour.”

Jaden Cummings and Caiden Russell scored 11 points each to lead the Lady Eagles. Bailey McCoy added eight points and Kelsey Cruz seven. Brielle Turner, Kaylen Schultz, Makenna Sharpe and Chloe McCoy each chipped in five points.

Cummings also had three steals and two blocked shots in 18 minutes of action. Bailey McCoy had three blocked shots, Turner three steals and Schultz three assists.

Eleven of the 13 Lady Eagles got in eight or more minutes of playing time and everyone scored but one.

Lily Lampkin led Carter (7-22) with five points, two steals, two assists and one blocked shot. Olivia Craig also scored five points and Caleigh Wilson four.

Seymour led 33-6 at halftime.

Coach Hernandez said after the game he believes the potential of this team is “very similar” to last year’s potential.

“We returned a lot of girls and only lost one from last year. It’s a group that’s been battled tested and played a really tough schedule during the regular season to prepare us for this time of year. We have some pretty lofty goals that we’ve set. But our goal right now is to take it one game at a time and just continue to put ourselves in the position that we want to be in.”

Emma Watson is the only starter that didn’t return. She is now playing at Roane State. This year’s returning starters are Cummings, McCoy, Turner and Russell. Schultz, who was the team’s “sixth man” last season, is now part of the starting five.

Hernandez is in his fifth season as Seymour’s head coach and this year’s team (22-9) is the third straight to win 20 or more games. It has notched big wins over Livingston Academy and Heritage and also swept rival Northview Academy en route to posting a 6-0 district record in the regular season.

All five Seymour starters earned All-District 3-3A recognition, with Cummings being selected Player of the Year. McCoy and Schultz also were named first-team honorees, while Turner was a second-team selection and Russell received an honorable mention.

Seymour will play Northview Academy (20-9), a 65-34 winner over Gibbs, for the championship tonight at 7:30. Gibbs (8-20) will go against host Carter (7-22) in the consolation contest at 6. All four teams will advance to the region.