FAMILY TIES: Seyers cause double trouble for the opposition

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Ethan Seyer's contributions to the success of the Oak Ridge boys basketball team rarely show up in the stat book, but opposing coaches realize his importance. (Laura Simon)
Hunter Seyer averages 13 points per game for the 14-6 Bluejays. (Fred Lynch)

One is a scorer, a deadly eye from the corner, quick with a three-pointer or a sudden baseline drive to the hoop.

The other is a distributor, a consummate point guard, more content to run the offense and set up a teammate than to shoot on his own.

They work together instinctively, seamlessly, each knowing what the other is doing, where he's going, often before the other even makes a move. You'd swear they were brothers. Twins, maybe.

But they're not.

Ethan Seyer. (Fred Lynch)

Hunter Seyer is the scorer. The senior shooting guard came into this week's action averaging 13 points a game for the 14-6 Bluejays. He mostly cruises the perimeter, using picks and screens to move from corner to corner, setting up outside the 3-point line. His accuracy from beyond 19 feet, 9 inches can border on the uncanny: He hit nine 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 29 points in a 77-37 victory over Bell City during last month's Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.

Ethan Seyer is the distributor, the team's quarterback on the court. His statistics are modest -- he averages two points, three assists, three rebounds and 2.3 steals per game -- but they don't nearly tell the story of the senior's importance to a squad that seems to be hitting its stride.

"Ethan is the kind of player whose stats are never gonna look good, as everything he does well just doesn't show up on a piece of paper," Oak Ridge coach Adam Stoneking notes. "He works harder than anyone else in practice, to a point that sometimes I have to tell him to tone it down a little. He is as dependable as a kid can be, and I've never heard him complain about anything in the five years I've been his coach."

Ethan has no problem playing the playmaker.

"Everybody's got a job, and it's just one of those deals," he explained. "From little on, I was never really a scorer. The only points I ever had was free throws and layups and that's kind of carried on. Now, I can shoot a little bit. I've got a better shot than I ever had.

"But I just don't try to set myself up for shots. Hunter, he can shoot; that's no secret. If I can set him up for a shot, that's points for him and assists for me. Good for the team."

Scott City coach Mark Dannenmueller raves about the cousins' on-court talents. He should know. His Rams have played the Bluejays three times this season, and with a modicum of success: Scott City has beaten Oak Ridge twice.

"They both play the game the right way," Dannenmueller said. "They do all the little stuff. They always seem to do the right thing, make a play that needs to be made, or make a pass that needs to be made."

After beating Oak Ridge at the Woodland Tournament in the second game of the season, the Rams fell to the Bluejays 61-55 in the consolation championship of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament. In the third game, back on Jan. 2, the host Rams prevailed 65-40.

"Hunter seems really smart on the offensive end," Dannenmueller said. "He knows when to shot-fake, and he knows how to get his shot off. And Ethan plays good defense and runs their offense. He handles the ball and does all the little stuff for them.

Hunter Seyer. (Fred Lynch)

"Those are the kind of kids you really want to coach."

Ethan and Hunter Seyer were born a month and a half apart in the spring of 1995, sons of Chester and Kristi Seyer (Ethan), and James and Lisa Seyer (Hunter). The cousins grew up on the family farms, J&C Seyer Farms, about five miles north of Oak Ridge. There, the boys lived the typical farm family life: doing chores, helping out around the house, hunting, fishing -- and playing basketball.

Lots of basketball.

"We spent a lot of time together as kids," Hunter Seyer said. "It seemed like every family event, we were playing basketball or doing stuff together. It gives you a good feel for the game and how good we are together."

Ethan concurs.

"Ever since third grade we played together," he said. "And that's not counting anything we did before that. We've always been together."

Those impromptu barnyard basketball games with friends and family helped take them through elementary school and junior high, then to high school, where they faced a bigger challenge: varsity basketball.

Welcome to a whole new world.

Stoneking coached both boys as eighth graders and saw potential -- raw and unfinished, but potential nonetheless.

"Ethan got to play a lot (in eighth grade) just because he was the only one that could handle the ball," Stoneking said. "And Hunter was decent offensively, but never had a shot. But ultimately, he worked hard, so hard on his shot -- and Ethan works on all of his skills -- that they've turned themselves into good varsity players through their own work. It wasn't like they just grew into it; they worked to get where they are today."

That work ethic wasn't born on the basketball court. It was instilled in the Seyer cousins from their youth; from their parents, who knew well the rewards of working long hours and dedication to tasks at hand.

Chester Seyer bought the first farm near Oak Ridge about 26 years ago, and it was there young Ethan grew up. He spent his time feeding cattle in the winter, helping prepare the fields for planting in the spring, making hay during the summer and helping out during the fall harvest.

It may not sound like a lot of fun to some, but it was simply a way of life for the young Seyers.

"It's fun watching those two," Chester Seyer said. "They do play well together. They're not enemies or try and out-do each other, they play as a team, they really do. And they work well together too, they really do."

The Seyers attend as many of their son's and nephew's events as time allows, time that Chester Seyer knows is dwindling as the boys get older.

"We go to about all of them we can," Chester Seyer said. "With Ethan running cross country, we've missed a few of those, but we go to all of them that we can. They're already seniors, it's hard to believe."

When they're not frustrating opponents on the basketball court, both boys are typical teenagers.

"I love to hang out with friends," said Hunter. "I like to go hunting -- not as much as Ethan, he's a die-hard out there -- love to go hunting, I love playing baseball outside of school, and fishing, I just love it. Anything I can get my hands on to work with or tinker with, I love working on stuff with my dad and just being around family."

But each of those things has its own time and place.

"We focus a lot on grades," said Hunter. "We've been told that schooling comes first and we take that really seriously. Other than that, we do farming at home; our parents have always farmed together, they're brothers. We've just been brought up with that."

Both boys carry a straight-A average in school, and Ethan's in the running for senior class' valedictorian. There's very little competition between the two; in fact, both agree they act more like brothers than cousins.

"You've got some cousins, then you've got me and Hunter," said Ethan. "People have always thought we were brothers. I think we're closer than most cousins are and that goes in our thinking, that goes in our playing.

"We kind of think along the same lines in a lot of things. We've almost got this weird "twins telepathy" going on. I can tell when he's in trouble, and he can tell when I'm going to be in trouble, and we help each other out. That's what cousins, and that's what teammates, do."

Having a "brother" for a teammate has its benefits.

"I think it makes us really in tune," Hunter said. "We work really well together. It gives us a feel for each other where we know how to score together and where we're going to be at next."

And each is there for the other, in good times and bad.

"If one of us is having a bad night," said Hunter, "you can expect the other one to be there with a pat on the back or just to give the other guys words of advice. 'You're gonna be there the next game, you're gonna be there the rest of the season.'"

It's the last year of high school for both Seyer boys. Ethan has already earned his third All-State honor in cross country this past season. For Hunter, baseball is just around the corner.

But there's still some goals to accomplish during basketball season.

"I'd like to go over that 20-game win mark this season," Ethan said. "Last year was the first year in a while that Coach Stoneking has been here that we haven't done that, and I think it'd be really cool our senior year to do that again, kind of wrap everything up on a good note."

With Ethan running the show and Hunter firing up the shots, don't bet against them.

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