Most teams would be satisfied with just being 4-0 in the early part of an NJCAA basketball season but not the Seward County Lady Saints. After not playing at the top of their game last week in a trip to Oklahoma, the Lady Saints were ready to show what they were truly made of this weekend at the Billy’s/Days Inn Classic against a pair of formidable foes in Clarendon and Frank Phillips. After a pair of blowout wins, Lady Saints fans should know just what they have, a team that is clicking on all cylinders offensively rolling into conference play in just a week and a half.
Friday the Lady Saints matched up with Clarendon, a 7-2 team coming into the classic averaging over 100 points per game. Knowing coming in of the Lady Bulldogs interesting substitution approach to the game, three groups of five players playing one minute each in rotations, the Lady Saints put together a game plan of giving the Clarendon squad a dose of their own medicine by playing at a frantic pace for 40 straight minutes. The strategy paid off as Seward would score the games first six points and never trail in the affair. Just seven minutes into the game the Lady Saints had already built a 20 point lead at 30-10 and later on in the first half pushed that lead all the way up to 38 with a layup from Vaneza Junior on a dish from Tameka Sanchez. Seward led 67-32 at the break thanks in part to 24 Clarendon turnovers and a 31-12 rebounding edge in the first 20 minutes of play. Rachel Barnes had 17 first half points to pace the Lady Saints attack that shot 54% in the half, most of which coming on transition layups in odd man rushes after Seward had broken the Clarendon press that didn’t cause much of a problem for the home team.
Barnes would come out in the second half as hot as she ended the first half scoring 8 points in the first minute and a half of the second, giving the Lady Saints a 40 point advantage at 76-36. A Morgan Skomal bucket with 11:46 left in the half increased the Seward lead to its largest of the game at 47, 94-47. Seward hit the century mark with over eight minutes remaining in the game on a free-throw by Barnes and later the Lady Saints sophomore star headed to the line for a pair of free-throws sitting tied with her career high of 29 points. After missing the first attempt and a sub waiting at the table for her, Barnes sunk the second of the two attempts to give her her first 30 point game of her career with the Lady Saints. Liz Ginther would give Seward a 50 point lead with a minute left in the game and her two free throws with 30 seconds left sealed the Bulldogs fate and gave the Lady Saints a 119-70 win as the final horn sounded.
Rachel Barnes finished the evening with those 30 points to go along with 7 rebounds which led a group of six Lady Saints that reached double figures in Seward’s highest offensive output of the year. Nadia Rosario scored her career high 17 points on 8 of 13 shooting and also pulled down 8 rebounds in the win. The third Lady Saint to record a career high in the ballgame was Sheila Washington who notched 12 points to compliment a team high 7 assists on the night. Vaneza Junior had a nice night scoring 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting and Kendra Spresser chipped in 13 points and a team high 11 rebounds in the game. Freshman Morgan Skomal and Sumr Robinett continue to put together solid effort for coach Wynn and the Lady Saints as the two combined for 19 points and 13 rebounds in the contest.
With their win over Clarendon and Frank Phillips easy win over Pratt, the showdown was set between the Lady Saints and Lady Plainsmen as both would enter Saturday nights primetime contest with undefeated records but there was only room for one to leave the Greenhouse with one after the night was done. The two teams went back and forth early in a less than cleanly played first half, and Seward found themselves up just 1 five minutes in after a three-pointer from Donmique Woods made it 10-9 Seward with 15 minutes left in the first half. A 7-0 run from Seward capped by a steal and score from Megan Lassley would put the gals in green up 17-9 but just moments later Frank Phillips would score three straight baskets to retake the lead at 23-21. With the score tied at 23, back to back three-pointers from Barnes and Lassley would give Seward a 29-23 lead and as the half came to an end the scoreboard would read 37-30 in favor of the Lady Saints as the teams headed to the locker room. The two teams would combined for 30 turnovers in the half that saw 4 tied and 6 lead changes.
The second half was a much different story as Seward would score 11 of the first 12 points of the half to open up a 17 point lead while not allowing a Frank Phillips field goal for nearly the first four minutes of the frame. The Lady Plainsmen would get to within 10 but would get no closer as Seward blew the game open late and went on to win by a final score of 80-56 in a game closed by the exact same thing as the Lady Saints Friday win, a pair of Liz Ginther free throws with under 30 seconds remaining. Seward shot 46% as a team in the second half and capitalized on 16 of 25 free throw attempts to set up the final 24 point winning margin.
Rachel Barnes had a game high 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists in the win for Seward while Megan Lassley turned in a nice game as well with 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists for the Lady Saints. Vaneza Junior had her second straight strong effort in the victory going 6 of 9 while racking up 17 points and 3 assists.
The pair of wins moves Seward County to 6-0 on the season as they head into this weekend’s Thanksgiving Classic in Garden City where they will take on New Mexico JC for the second time this season on Friday as well as Western Nebraska CC who is ranked 8th in the latest NJCAA polls on Saturday. Both games will be played at 1:30 in the Perryman Center and will be available on talk radio 1270 and online at kscb.net.

CLARENDON BOX
FRANK PHILLIPS BOX