If the old adage, “defense wins championships” is true, and this weekend’s Jayhawk Shootout is any indication of things to come, the Seward County Lady Saints Basketball Team has good things in their future. After defeating Jayhawk East powers Cowley and Coffeyville this weekend, holding the pair to just 55 and 43 points respectively, the Lady Saints will get back into the swing of things in Jayhawk Conference action at 15-1.
In a rare Friday morning affair, the Lady Saints opened up the 2010 Jayhawk Shootout by taking on Cowley, who is currently leading the Jayhawk East Conference at 3-1 in conference play. The game started slow as the contrasting styles of play clashed on the court with the methodical offense and 1-3-1 zone defense of Cowley matching up with the up-tempo offense and man to man defense of the Lady Saints. Both teams struggled to find a rhythm on offense and shot under 30% in the first 20 minutes but 11 offensive rebounds and a trio of three pointers for Seward helped them to a 25-16 lead at the half. In the second half Cowley was able to find a better cadence on the offensive end and shot their way back into the game, erasing Seward’s 9 point halftime lead and actually taking a lead of their own late in the half after a handful of empty possessions for the Lady Saints. There was no quit in the gals in green however as a Megan Lassley three pointer sparked the Lady Saints and after a stop on defense and a bucket on the other end, Seward found themselves up three with under a minute left to play. With the game going much as last year’s matchup with Cowley did when the two locked horns in the Thanksgiving Classic in Garden City, a late three point attempt for the Lady Tigers would miss short and the Lady Saints would eventually come away with a 60-55 victory.
Clutch late free throw shooting by the entire Lady Saints team helped seal the victory as Seward was 22 of 24 in the second half from the charity stripe and finished the game shooting 88% at 30 for 34. The Lady Saints withstood a 12 for 24 second half shooting attack from Cowley while shooting just 24% themselves, but in the end 26% was all Seward needed shooting the basketball in the win. The biggest stats of the game came with 26 Seward points off of 20 Cowley turnovers as well as 19 offensive rebounds for the Lady Saints compared to just 9 for the girls from Arkansas City.
Individually Seward was led by 20 points and 6 rebounds from Rachel Barnes and 9 points and 10 rebounds from Nadia Rosario. Barnes was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line, many of those coming down the stretch while Rosario knocked down 3 of 4 from the charity stripe. Megan Lassley finished with 9 points and 3 assists including two big three pointers and a Harlem Globetrotters play to end the half in which she went to the floor with the basketball while keeping her dribble and spinning in a circle before passing the ball ahead to Barnes for an easy two. In an interested side note, three Seward County players scored all of their points in the game from the free throw line as Sheila Washington, Kendra Spresser, and Sumr Robinett combined to go 11 of 13 from the line for 11 big points in the game.
The win for Seward and a win by Coffeyville later Friday night over Butler setup the matchup of the tournament on the women’s side between the Lady Saints and the Lady Red Ravens, Saturday night at 5:00. The two went back and forth much of the first 20 minutes and neither team was able to open up too wide of a margin as much like the first Seward game, both teams struggled on the offensive end of the floor, shooting a combined 26% in the half. An offensive rebounds and put back by Kendra Spresser at the buzzer would put Seward up 6 at 26-20 as the Lady Saints held Coffeyville to just 21% shooting in the opening half. The Seward offense started clicking in the second half and a quartet of three point splash downs for the Lady Saints helped open up a sizeable lead as they ran away with their 15th win in 16 tries on the season as they finished the game with their largest margin of the whole contest as they went on to win 61-43.
Seward held Coffeyville to just 43 points, 27 under their season average while also holding the Lady Ravens to their 2nd lowest shooting night, 24% of the year. A main cause of the offensive shutdown for Coffeyville was the lockdown defense the Lady Saints played on Sheay Longstaff, the Lady Ravens biggest offensive threat, as they held her to just 3 points on 1 of 7 shooting after the sophomore had 20 points including 6 three point makes the night before against Butler.
In the win Rachel Barnes again paced the offense with 23 points and a career high 15 rebounds, including 9 of those on the offensive glass. Megan Lassley drilled 3 three pointers in the win and finished with 10 points while Nadia Rosario played big inside for the second straight contest and finished with 9 points and 8 boards. Liz Ginther found the bottom of the net on 2 of 3 three point attempts and ended the night with 6 points and Sumr Robinett, Morgan Skomal and Sheila Washington combined for 14 rebounds to help give Seward a 51-46 rebounding edge in the game.
The pair of quality wins moves Seward to 15-1 on the season, the best start since the 2006-07 season when the Lady Saints started 24-0 before going on to finish 3rd at the National Tournament. They will return to conference play Wednesday when they travel to Pratt to take on the Beavers before returning home Saturday in a much anticipated matchup with 13th ranked and 17-0 Cloud County in the Greenhouse. Saturday’s home tilt will be sponsored by First National Bank where free tickets for the game can be picked up at any of the three FNB locations in Liberal.