The Seward County Lady Saints finished off a perfect first half of conference play Saturday night in El Dorado as they knocked off Butler to move to 8-0 in Jayhawk West action. Monday night, in a hard fought battle, the Lady Saints dropped their first conference game as they were stymied by Hutchinson’s solid defense as they were held to 26% shooting in the 67-55 loss.
Saturday night the 10th ranked Lady Saints traveled to the Power Plant to take on Butler and got much more of a battle than they were looking for. The Lady Grizzlies jumped out to a 9-2 lead to open the game and after Seward regained control, got the lead back late in the first half on a pair of triples from Abby Fawcett. Seward would close the half on a 12-3 run to take a 6 point lead into the locker room and wouldn’t look back from there. They extended that run to 16-3 to open the second half and Megan Lassley’s sharpshooting from the outside would thwart any Butler rally in the 2nd 20 minutes. The Lady Saints would eventually push their lead to 16 and finished another solid offensive performance by outscoring the Grizzlies 86-73 on their home court to take home their 10th straight win on the year.
Rachel Barnes was her normal self scoring a game high 27 points and grabbing 8 rebounds while Nadia Rosario dominated a much smaller Butler team inside with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Megan Lassley connected on 3 three-pointers and finished with a nice line of 16 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals while Vaneza Junior, Sheila Washington, and Morgan Skomal all scored 8 points apiece.
The win set up a much anticipated rematch with #24 Hutchinson in the Sports Arena on Monday night as the Lady Saints looked to all but wrap up the Jayhawk West Conference just 9 games in and the Lady Dragons looked to just stay afloat in the conference race coming off of a big win over Cloud County on Saturday. The game started well for Seward as Vaneza Junior would put the Lady Saints up 5-0 with a layup 3 minutes in and then Rachel Barnes would put the gals in green up 9-2 with a finish inside a minute later as Seward had visions of last year’s blowout win in their mind for déjà vu. However, the Lady Saints would go without a field goal for over 8 minutes through the middle part of the half as Hutchinson was able to battle back to within two at 11-9. The action would heat up offensively as the two teams alternated scores and Seward found themselves up one at 16-15 with 6:54 to go in the first half. Hutchinson would outscore Seward 12-2 in the next 4 minutes to take a commanding 9 point lead but the Lady Saints would finish the half on a 7-0 run capped by 3 Morgan Skomal points to slash the deficit to 2 as the teams hit the locker rooms.
The start of the second half made a mockery of the importance of momentum going into the locker room at halftime as Hutch opened on a 10-0 run and held Seward scoreless for over 4 and a half minutes to take a 12 point lead. The Dragon lead would jump to 16 with under 9 minutes to play but just when all looked hopeless for Seward, the Lady Saints gave a last big push, going on a 11-0 5 minute run to chop the Hutch lead to just 5 as a new ball game was on with 5 minutes to go in the game. Unfortunately for Lady Saints fans the Lady Dragons would score 7 quick points to push the lead back to double digits and that is the margin the score was at when the final horn sounded at 67-55.
With one of the top rated defenses in the country Hutchinson shut down the Seward County offensive attack holding them to just 26% shooting overall and just 5 for 23 from the three point line on the night. Although Hutch did turn the ball over 24 times on the night, 17 offensive rebounds and a 55-29 advantage on the boards helped push them out to the win. While most would expect Hutch stars Heather Robben and Ariella McGhee to lead them to a big victory over their rival Seward, it was freshman Blessing Uba who dialed it up a notch and scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win for the Lady Dragons. Vaneza Junior led Seward with 14 points while Rachel Barnes and Nadia Rosario both had 10.
The loss was just Seward’s second of the season as they drop to 21-2 on the year but still lead the Jayhawk Conference with an 8-1 record a little more than halfway through. The Lady Saints will now return home for a sustained home stand as they will see their next 3 games in the comfort of the Greenhouse, a place where they are 8-1 this season. That home stand will start Wednesday against Barton County as the teams will square off for the second time this year after Seward downed them 70-56 in early December. Holiday Inn Express and the Southwest Times are the buyout sponsors with free tickets available at both of those locations as well as Days Inn, Hutch’s, and First National Bank.