Coming off of their biggest win of the season, the Seward County Saints looked to get back to back conference wins for just the second time this season against #9 Barton County. This was seemingly a huge task for the Saints, as 9th nationally ranked Cougars came into the game with an 8-1 conference record, as well as a 21-2 overall record on the season. After falling behind 12-2 just four minutes into the contest, someone forgot to tell the visiting Saints that they were supposed to roll over to the Cougar team who has 13-1 going into Wednesday night’s game at home in the Kirkland Center. In the next seven minutes, Seward County led the conference’s best offense to just four points while scoring 12 of the own from five different players. To end the half, the Saints went on a 21-10 run to capture a halftime lead of 29-25. After a Corey Bingham three-pointer to open the half, Thijin Moses responded with a three-pointer of his own and after being fouled on the play, converted a four point play with the free throw. After four minutes of nothing but Moses three-pointers, the Saints held their largest lead of the night at 39-28 and would never look back from there. Seward County opened up their largest lead of the night at 54-38 with a Marcus James layup with 10 minutes left in the half and the Cougars never got closer than seven for the rest of the evening. The Saints came away with a 77-65 win in the Cougar Den marking their biggest back to back wins since last year’s National Tournament run. Moses ended the game shooting 7 of 12 from the field including 4 of 7 from the three-point line good for 21 points. Jon Tassin recorded a career high in points for the second straight game with 18 to go along with his 6 rebounds. Marcus James followed up his KJCCC Player of the Week nomination with a 10 point 9 rebound performance of his own. The Saints went 20 of 25 from the free throw line in the win while holding the Cougars to just 39% shooting from the field and 65 points when Barton County had averaged 90 a game coming into the night. With the win Seward County moves into a fourth place tie with Hutchinson at 5-5 in the Jayhawk West Conference while they improve to 18-6 on the season overall. The Saints will now travel to Colby Saturday night to face a dangerous Colby team who despite their 5-19 record has beaten Hutchinson by 23 and beat Cloud County by 10 Wednesday night. They will then travel to Pratt Wednesday before returning home Saturday the 14th for a tilt with Cloud County on “Think Pink” night at the Green House.
With two of the four teams tied atop the Jayhawk West’s Conference standings going head to head Wednesday night in Great Bend, fans of both Seward County and Barton County knew they were going to have a show to watch Wednesday night. As advertised, both teams wowed the crowd putting up basket after basket in the first half. The teams stayed close until Barton went on a mini run led by sharp shooting guard Brooke Conley to take a 49-34 lead with 2:30 remaining in the first half. Just when Lady Cougar fans thought they could take a deep breath the Lady Saints stormed back on a 9-0 run to end the first half of play to cut the Barton lead to just six going into the break. Barton held a slight advantage through much of the second half but were never able to pull away from the 24th ranked Lady Saints which proved costly after a pair of Seward stops and scores on the other end had the game tied with just over three minutes remaining. Seward County lost center Amanda Pierson on an offensive foul call which was her fifth foul on the night after an impressive 19 point, 6 rebound, 6 block performance. With Pierson on the bench, Lady Saints Rachel Barnes was called upon to take over on the inside for coach Toby Wynn and that is just what she did putting in a pair of late buckets to keep Seward County deadlocked at 78. With eight seconds left, Barton County brought the ball down the court and against a well defended shot, Conley air balled her attempt and with the final horn sounding, a referees whistle blew. After a brief discussion, the officials decided that they would send the Lady Cougars Tressie Todd to the free throw line for two attempts with 0.4 seconds on the clock due to a foul incurring on her rebound and put back attempt at the buzzer. Needing just one of the two free throws to seemingly ice the game, Todd knocked down both and Seward County was unable to get a shot off in the .4 seconds remaining on the clock to send the Lady Saints to their second straight defeat in the waning moments of a game. “It’s just hard to swallow both teams playing their hearts out for 39 minutes and 59 seconds and then to have the game decided by a human judgment call” Seward County Head Coach Toby Wynn said. “I would have rather seen the game go an extra five minutes and have two teams who had been making plays all night, decide it on the court. Unfortunately that isn’t how it happened and now we have to fight for the rest of the year to get back on top. I am very proud of the way our girls played and battled in a tough environment tonight” he added. Rachel Barnes had an unforgettable night in the loss, finishing the game with career highs in both points (29) and rebounds (14). Although she was forced to sit out the last few minutes of the game, Amanda Pierson reached her career best 19 points as well as 6 blocks which she had done just once before. The Lady Saints drop their first back to back games of the season in the loss and now set at 19-5 overall and 7-3 in the Jayhawk West. After playing two of the teams tied for first place in the league in the past three nights, Seward County’s schedule will get seemingly softer in the next week when they will travel to Colby Saturday to play a Lady Trojans team they beat by 51 earlier in the year followed by a visit to Pratt Wednesday to take on the Lady Beavers who they beat by 41 in the first round of conference play. Seward County’s next home action will come on February 14th against Cloud County on “Think Pink” night at the Green House where fans are encouraged to wear pink and donate money throughout the night to help fund breast cancer awareness and research.