It seemed as if roles were reversed early in Tuesday night’s Region VI Tournament first round game between the 3rd seeded Seward County Saints and the 6th seeded Kansas City Kansas Blue Devils. It was the team who drove 8 hours to get to the game that jumped out to the 12-1 lead rather than the team who was comfortable in their own gym. The Saints however would make their run and would outlast the Blue Devils in the end as they came out on top of an 85-66 score in the Greenhouse to move on to the second round of the playoffs.

Seward would find themselves in a hole early as Scott Fruehling couldn’t miss from the outside for KCK and there seemed to be a lid on the bucket at the other end as the Saints were down 12-1 after failing to connect on a field goal for over 4 minutes. The tides would turn in the next 10 minutes as Seward would go on a 26-8 run to take a 7 point lead and eventually a 5 point, 33-28 lead into the locker rooms at half. The Saints shot 43% in the first half while KCK shot 46% and after the Blue Devils started 3 for 4 from the three point line, they went 0-6 in the final 14 minutes of the half as their lead evaporated.

Kansas City Kansas would again start the half hot as they erased Seward’s lead and took a lead of their own a few minutes into the period. The two teams would go back and forth for much of the half and the game would remain close as KCK seemed to forget about their two 6’9 big men inside, choosing instead to rely on their three point shooting to bring them down the stretch. That is when Seward went on their run, building a double digit lead late thanks to clutch free throw shooting and strong work inside by outsized Latiq Agard and Marky Nolen. The Saints would blow the game open late as their pressure defense caused numerous turnovers by the KCK guard and nearly eliminated the outside shooting of Fruehling and Derrick Denny. The Saints would go on to win by the count of 85-66 in a game closer than the score would tell to move on to the second round of the tournament.

Latiq Agard finished with a season high 29 points thanks in large part to a strong effort from the free throw line where he went 11 for 13. Marky Nolen was Agard’s partner in crime for most of the night down low as the freshman scored 21 points and had 8 rebounds against a much larger front line for the Blue Devils. Donte McCarter finished the game with 9 points including 5 for 5 from the line in the second half and guards Robert Sigala and Spencer Moore scored 8 apiece in the game.

The win makes Seward 23-8 on the season and pushes them to the second round of the Region VI Tournament Saturday night where they will take on the Cowley Tigers. This marks the third straight season that the Saints and Tigers will have met in the tournament with the 08 matchup going to the Saints and last year’s game going to the Tigers in OT to end the Saints season. The Saints and Tigers did tangle earlier this season with Seward coming out on top 83-67 in the Jayhawk Shootout but playoff time would suggest Saturday night’s 5:00 game at Koch Arena in Wichita will be much closer than that.