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By David Sharp
Payson-Seymour remained undefeated on the season with a 67-37 win over Highland in December 6, 2019 non-conference varsity boys play at Highland. The Indians scored the first seven points of the night and never looked back.
Payson took the ball away defensively and rained down eight made three pointers in the first half, nine on the night. The Indians pushed Highland away from the basket defensively.
Payson held the Cougars to five made field goals on the night. The Cougars (1-3) sank ten three pointers in the contest. Highland senior Justin Plant led the Cougars in scoring, sinking three home run balls during the closing moments of the contest.
The Indians (6-0) took a 24-8 first quarter lead. Payson moved the ball extremely well. The Indians led by 27 points at 39-12 with 1:07 remaining in the first half. Payson led 39-14 at the half.
Highland worked the ball toward the lane more effectively in the second half. Payson-Seymour led 55-27 after three quarters. Indian senior Cole Schwartz led all scorers with 32 points. Schwartz scored 21 points in the first half.
Cole Schwartz scored his 1000th career point for Payson-Seymour. Lucas Loos turned in a triple-double, scoring ten points with ten assists and ten steals.
“They are a good group,” Payson-Seymour coach Brian Rea said. “I love those kids. I love watching them play. I enjoy them daily at practice. They just really have good chemistry together.”
“It was a great night. Cole Schwartz scores his 1000th point,” Brian Rea said. “That first three he made put him at 1001.” Schwartz followed that three-ball with a slam dunk field goal for the early 7-0 lead.
“Lucas Loos scored a triple-double,” Brian Rea said. “(Justin Plant) got to lead them in scoring tonight. That was pretty cool. It was a pretty cool night overall.”
Payson-Seymour led by a 60-27 margin with 3:22 remaining in the game. The clock ran continuously by the Missouri Mercy Rule. Highland’s coaching staff inserted Justin Plant into the game.
Justin Plant is a Highland senior student with Special Needs. Classmate Dylan Schroeder guided Plant to the area in front of the scorer’s table just to the Highland side of half court.
Justin Plant sank a three-point bomb from near half-court with 2:43 remaining in the game for a 62-31 Payson lead. The reaction from players and supporters of both sides turned a 30 point blowout into an electric atmosphere in a matter of seconds.
Justin Plant banged another three from about the same spot for a 64-34 Payson lead with 1:15 showing on the fourth-quarter clock. The crowd and player reaction was even louder and more joyous.
Plant scored one more long three-ball for nine points on the night. Payson-Seymour earned the 67-37 victory.
Justin Plant led Highland with nine points. Dalton Klocke scored eight Cougar points. Alex Meyer fired in five points. Dylan Schroeder and Drew Mallett scored four points each.
Cameron Bringer, Dakota Stegeman and Justin Hawkins scored two Cougar points each. Jacob Klocke added one Highland point.
“These past two nights…we knew they had played each other close so we knew we had to play a perfect game to even be in the game with them,” Highland coach Brock Butler said.
Highland played another of West Central Illinois better small school teams the previous evening when the Cougars took on Liberty.
“Both teams are very experienced and we’re not,” Brock Butler said. “We are going to come into every game inexperienced. We have a couple of kids who played varsity basketball last year but didn’t get a lot of minutes.”
“We just have to work with it. We have a lot of growing pains in the early season,” Brock Butler said. “We don’t have a very easy schedule with our first four games. We will take these games, take them to heart and get back to work on Monday.”
Brock Butler talked about the memorable moments the first-year head coach, and everyone who was in attendance at this contest who remained for the final three minutes received.
“Every game we want to get that kid in,” Brock Butler said of Justin Plant. “He comes to practice every day. He is the heart and soul of this team. I tried to get him in last night and he wouldn’t have it.”
“Tonight I called timeout and got him in. He stands up, and that’s when you know he’s ready to rock and roll,” Brock Butler said. “Shout out to Payson. They are a class act. They were giving him the ball and letting him shoot. I don’t ask for that.”
“All he wants to do is shoot. He’s not going to play defense,” Brock Butler said of Justin Plant. He loves his hoops. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I work well with him. He works well with me.”
“We just love the kid to death. How could you not love a kid that shows up every day and he listens well,” Brock Butler said of Justin Plant. “You just learn to love him. He will always joke around with you. He is always there for you.”
“He’s just one of a kind.”