This weekend at the Garden City Thanksgiving Classic, both the Seward County Saints and Lady Saints Basketball teams proved that they are for real in a season that may have started with question marks from outsiders. The Lady Saints kicked things off on Friday afternoon with a 50 point blowout win against a much improved Lamar C.C. team. The men’s team followed the Lady Saints by taking control early and never looking back in a 79-62 win against 8-1 Frank Phillips. Many people had November 29th circled on their calendar as a day to find out what both teams were made of and any doubters were quieted as the Lady Saints squared off in a game with 8-1 Cowley, and had the led the majority of the game and held off a late rally from the scrappy Tigers to win the inter-conference matchup 63-60. The Seward County men’s team had New Mexico J.C. slated for the afternoon affairs in a matchup that closely resembled the biblical story of David and Goliath with a Thunderbird team that had a frontline of 7’1, 7’0, and 6’10 while the Saints play a much smaller, quicker lineup with Thiago Oliveira in the middle at just 6’5. As the story goes, the Saints came out on top after a hard fought battle with the T-Birds winning the game 91-83.
La’Nell Taylor caught fire for the Lady Saints quickly after coming off the bench Friday afternoon and hit all six of her shots, including four three point baskets en route to a 16 point afternoon. Seward County had their best game inside the paint against Lamar with Nadia Rosario and Amanda Pierson combining to go 10 of 14 shooting for 23 points. Megan Lassley tied a career high with seven assists and connected on 50% of her shots for 11 points. Every Lady Saint played double digit minutes for coach Toby Wynn as they shot 53% while holding the ‘Lopes to 33% shooting from the field. The win took Seward County to 6-1 and into a much anticipated matchup against 8-1 Cowley College Saturday night. The two teams played a much slower game than the Lady Saints are used to with Cowley preferring to play a half court game and took away many of Seward County’s fast break opportunities. Seward took a 26-21 lead into the half against the beasts from the east and stretched the lead to as much as 11 with just over three minutes remaining in the 2nd half when the Tigers staged a furious comeback attempt. Thanks to the Lady Saints knocking down a season high 71% of their free-throws on the contest, they held a three point lead with seven seconds remaining when Cowley went the length of the court and handed the ball to their leading scorer Elena Yankova, who scored 20 points in last year’s Seward/Cowley Region VI Quarterfinal matchup, but Yankova was not able to connect on the buzzer beater and the Lady Saints moved to 7-1 with the 63-60 victory.
Next up for Coach Toby Wynn and his Lady Saints is this weekend’s Jayhawk Shootout in Coffeyville where the Lady Saints will have to rise and shine early for an 11:00 game Friday morning against Johnson County and a 9:00 a.m. game with Labette on Saturday.
The Saints men’s team was also primed for a weekend of tough competition. On the slate for Coach Bryan Zollinger’s Saints squad was the 8-1 Frank Phillips Plainsmen and the 10-1 New Mexico JC Thunderbirds. Seward County’s stifling defense once again rose to the occasion against a high flying, NBA style Frank Phillips offense and took a big 18-4 lead to start the game. The Plainsmen wouldn’t roll over on the reigning 3rd place national finishers however as they battled the Saints to a 46-31 Seward County lead into the locker rooms at half. Marcus James had his best game as a Saint Friday scoring 14 points and helped preserve the Saints double digit lead in the second half on way to a 79-62 victory. Latiq Agard had another strong game for the Saints scoring 18 points and pulling down eight rebounds. Jon Tassin hit two of three field goal attempts and knocked down six of eight free throws to register 11 points while Tony Smith led the Saints with five assists to go along with 13 points of his own. The win took the Saints into a battle with a New Mexico JC team who was hungry off of their first loss of the season Friday night. The Thunderbirds used an inside out attack and smooth shooting from 6’10 Brazilian Fabio Ribero to take an early lead. After a Seward County timeout, the Saints looked like a different team, moving the ball around and executing possessions on both ends of the court to take a 43-36 lead into halftime. The Saints pulled ahead and took a comfortable lead into the last few minutes of the game when New Mexico JC got hot again and poured in some late three pointers but Seward County capitalized on their late free-throw attempts, going 17 of 18 from the line in the 2nd half to come away with the 91-83 win. Six Saints scored in double figures in the contest including: Marcus James who set a new career high with 16, Latiq Agard who had 15, Marquez Patterson 14, Tony Smith 13, Thijin Moses 12, and Drew Jones 10. Thiago Oliveira played a key role in the Saints knocking off the much bigger T-Bird team snatching a team high eight rebounds.
The Saints will travel Eastward this weekend to play in the Jayhawk Shootout held in Coffeyville where they will play in a couple of matinee games starting with a 1:00 tilt with Johnson County on Friday followed by a 11:00 tip against Labette on Saturday.