Again this weekend the Seward County Saints high octane offense was on display as the guys in green went 2-0 in the Billy’s/Days Inn Classic with a 110-60 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State University JV on Friday night and a 95-53 win over the Jayhawk East’s Labette Cardinals on Saturday night to move to 5-1 overall on the young season.
Seward’s first matchup of the weekend was against the OPSU JV squad with a number of local names on the roster. Unfortunately for the undermanned and outmatched Aggies, the highlight of their night might have been keeping the Saints scoreless in their first offensive possession as Seward would score on 12 of their next 13 trips down the court en route to taking at 27-0 lead and keeping OPSU off the scoreboard for six and a half minutes to start the game. The Aggies would score five in a row once they did get one in the hoop but the Saints would then run off another 12 in a row capped by a Rafriel Guthrie three pointer to make it 39-5 in favor of the guys in green. Seward continued to pour it on OPSU in the first half, getting their lead up to 44 points before going into the half up 64-23. The Saints shot 63% in the first half and forced 21 Aggie turnovers to take the 41 point lead into the locker room. Leading the way offensively in the half for the Saints was Marquez Patterson who scored 13 points and Jeremy Jones who dished out 5 assists.
The Saints would show no mercy as the second half opened, taking their first 50 point lead of the ballgame after a bucket from Irvin Hollinger made it 79-29 with 13:18 to go. Their largest lead of the contest would come as Tyler Brashears connected with Chris Chaney for a layup to put Seward up 92-39 and the Saints would hit the century mark for the fourth time in five contests at the 6:00 mark when Marky Nolen grabbed a rebound and put one back inside. All 13 Saints available for the game would play during the second half and as the final horn sounded, Seward County would be ahead of a lopsided battle 110-60.
Six different Saints would reach double figures in the win including Patterson who finished with a team high 15. Hollinger would end the night with 13 points and 8 rebounds and Phil Hawkins would go for 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in the win. Nolen would put up a rare stat line for him at least, scoring just 7 points and pulling down just 4 rebounds but picking of 8 steals and dishing out 5 assists for the Saints. Raphael Giaimo would put in 15 minutes of quality work inside for Coach Bryan Zollinger, scoring 10 points and ripping down 6 rebounds and Chaney would put up a career high 9 in the victory.
Saturday night the Saints would play opposite a Labette squad picked to finish last in the Jayhawk East by the conference coaches and with just six players on their active roster for the contest. With a short bench and not nearly the firepower of the Saints going into the matchup, the Cardinals objective was to try and make the game a low scoring affair and that was evident early as a slow start for Seward on the offensive end coupled with Labette using nearly every second of every shot clock had the game deadlocked at 8-8 over 10 minutes into the game. Outside of Nolen, the Saints shot just 1 for 13 before the media timeout while they were kept in the game with their defense that had allowed just nine Labette shots while forcing eight Cardinal turnovers. Seward would begin to push the tempo in the final 10 minutes of the half and reeled off a more characteristic 25 points in the final 9 minutes en route to taking a 33-22 lead into the break. If one were to not look to deeply at the halftime box score, they might have thought the Cardinals had the 11 point lead as Labette outshot Seward 45 to 36% while outrebounding the Saints 23-17 during the first 20 minutes of action. The difference came however in Labette’s 15 first half turnovers to just 3 for the guys in green.
The second half would be a completely different story for the visitors from Parsons as they would get forced into an up-tempo game by the relentless Saints defense and it wouldn’t fare well for them. Seward would come out of the gates on fire during the second half and quickly extinguished any thoughts of a comeback by the Cardinals. A thunderous poster-quality dunk by the 6’0 Hawkins and a trio of three pointers from Brashears would be the exclamation point on the night midway through the period as the Saints would go on to score 62 second half points on their way to a 95-53 win.
The Saints would have all 12 players in the scoring column at nights end including 17 from Guthrie and 18 from Nolen in a near triple-double. The Saints sophomore forward would come out of the night with the 18 points to go along with 9 rebounds and a team high 8 steals for the second straight night. Running the point for the Saints and hammering home the most electrifying play of the year thus far, Hawkins finished with 11 points and 7 assists while turning the ball over just once.
Next up for the 5-1 Saints will be a little more of a challenge than they saw this weekend as they will meet the Jayhawk East favorite Cowley Tigers in the Civic Center in Dodge City on Friday night at 5:30. They will follow that contest up with another 5:30 date, this time with the same prep school of former Saints Latiq Agard, New Creations Basketball Academy out of Richmond, Indiana.