The Seward County Saints Basketball Team knew they were going to go up against some quality competition this weekend at the Western Texas Thanksgiving Classic but never did they think they would head back from the Lone Star State 0-2 on the weekend heading into this week’s Jayhawk West Conference opener.
Friday night the Saints had a date with the 10-1 Odessa Wranglers and for the first 32 minutes of the game the two teams were in a heated battle and the game up for grabs. Tied at 53 with just over 8 minutes remaining, the Saints were torched by the Wranglers to the tune of a 22-8 run to end the game and coincidentally dropped the contest 75-61. While outshooting Odessa in every facet of the game in the first half (49/40% FG, 80/39% 3pt, 56/43% FT), the Saints couldn’t buy a bucket in the game’s final 20 minutes going just 8 for 27 from the field and 1 for 8 from the 3-point line while being outscored by 13. With the offense sputtering, the Saints defense played relatively well in keeping them in the game until late, holding Odessa to just 33% shooting in the second half and 37% shooting for the game. If one glaring stat can be looked at as to where the game was won or lost, it has to point to a 55-28 rebounding advantage for Odessa including 23 offensive rebounds leading to 22 points compared to just 6 offensive rebounds and 5 second chance points for the Saints. Donte McCarter did his best to keep Seward in the game scoring a career high 33 points on 12 of 18 shooting while also pulling down a team high 7 rebounds in the defeat. Tony Smith was the only other Saint in double figures as he scored 12 and was second on the team with 6 rebounds. Outside of Smith, the other four Seward County starters in the game went just 3 for 20 (15%) in the contest scoring just 11 points after shooting 54% and scoring nearly 53 points a game in the Saints first seven games of the year.
The Saints wouldn’t have much time to lick their wounds as their road wouldn’t get any easier Saturday night as they ran up against a 9-1 Western Texas team on their home turf in Snyder. Seward again came out of the gates strong against the Westerner’s taking a 43-35 halftime lead behind a 45% shooting effort in the first half. The success wouldn’t continue in the 2nd 20 minutes of the game however as Seward lost their halftime lead with just over 7 minutes remaining and would never regain it again. The game would remain tight in the game’s final few minutes but the Saints were never able to get over the top of the hill after tying it several times. They would fall 77-73 in the contest after being outshot 50-32% in the second half to lose their halftime edge. Tony Smith led the Saints with 22 points and 9 rebounds in the loss while Marky Nolen played well scoring 17 and pulling down 8 rebounds.
The losses drop the Saints to 6-3 on the season as they look to right the ship in time for Wednesday’s Jayhawk West Conference opener against Hutchinson. The Saints will battle with the 9-0 10th ranked Blue Dragons at 8:00 Wednesday night as both look to grab an early hold on the top spot in the 2009-2010 race for the conference championship. Free tickets are available thanks to Wednesday’s buyout sponsor, The Bank of Beaver City. Those tickets can be picked up at any Bank of Beaver City location or on campus at SCCC/ATS in the Athletic Office, Wellness Center, Front Desk, or the Bookstore.