It was a game that was circled on many people’s calendar even outside the Seward and Cloud fans. Saturday night’s Jayhawk West Conference game between #15 Seward County and #20 Cloud County had implications on more than just the Lady Saints and Lady T-Birds. With a win Seward would hold a crippling stranglehold on the rest of the league while with a Cloud win, the Lady Saints would drop back into the pack and would open the door for a number of teams to throw their hat into the mix for the conference crown.
Seward raced out to a four point halftime lead despite getting just 5 points from their leading scorer Rachel Barnes but countered that with hardnosed defense and aggressive work on the offensive boards. The two teams were nearly identical in the first half offensively as Cloud outshot Seward 44-42% but the Lady Saints took advantage of a number of turnovers from Cloud while also finding their way to the free throw line 12 times where they outscored the Lady T-Birds by 4.
In the second half the Lady Saints simply grinded out the win by continuing their torrid pace and forcing turnover after turnover which led to a large number of points for the gals in green. “I felt like we wore them down in the last 10 minutes” Seward Head Coach Toby Wynn said about his team’s effort. Seward would go on to outscore Cloud 40-32 in the second half as Rachel Barnes rebounded from a slow first half to put together one of the best halves of basketball that Seward County has ever seen. The sophomore scored 24 second half points to finish the game with 29 nearly single handedly pushing the Lady Saints to the 78-66 victory.
Barnes paced the Lady Saints with a team high 29 points and 9 rebounds while Vaneza Junior finished a solid night with 11 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals. “Vaneza turned that game for us on the defensive end” Wynn said. “She got two big steals to get the momentum back on our side after they were making a run” he continued. Kendra Spresser and Nadia Rosario both finished with 10 and Megan Lassley nearly cracked double figures with 8. Seward forced 23 Cloud turnovers while only giving the ball up 12 times themselves. They outscored Cloud 22 to 8 at the free throw line and picked up 14 offensive rebounds to the T-Birds 10.
The win moves Seward to 25-2 on the season and more importantly 12-1 in Jayhawk West Conference play. They will now enjoy a week of rest before heading back to the court Saturday against Dodge City. Saturday will not only be homecoming in the Greenhouse but it will also be “Think Pink” Breast Cancer Awareness night where the Lady Saints will don pink and help raise breast cancer awareness as well as collect money to donate to the Kay Yow WBCA Breast Cancer Fund.