With two teams going head to head that combined to average nearly 180 points per game, the 55-55 on the scoreboard when the clock hit 0.00 would have been more likely to be the halftime total rather than the total at the end of regulation like it was. Seward jumped out to a seven point lead over Pratt in the first half of their Jayhawk West Conference tilt on Saturday night in the Greenhouse but the Beavs would storm back late in the second half to force overtime before Seward would go on to win 69-66 in the extra period.
Two teams going in different directions met on Saturday in the Greenhouse as the Seward County Saints looked to remain in the thick of things at the top of the Jayhawk West standings and the Pratt Beavers looked to steer clear of an 0-3 start in conference play. With that on the line, both teams started very sluggish in the first half of this one with a game more resembling an NFC North football battle than a matchup of the top two scoring teams in the league. Five minutes into the game things were all knotted up at 6 when Jeremy Jones knocked down a three pointer for the Saints and Marky Nolen grabbed a long rebound on the subsequent possession for Pratt and drove it the length of the court for two to make it 11-6 Seward. The Saints would tack onto their lead later on when Markee Mazyck grabbed an offensive rebound inside and was fouled on the put back try and then went to the line and made both free throws to put Seward up 15-8. The Saints remained up 6, 17-11 at the 8:44 mark when they let Beaver sharpshooter Nikolas Skouen loose where he hit a right wing three to cut the lead in half and after the teams traded a pair of free throws the Norwegian drilled another three ball to tie things up at 19 with 7:44 to go in period number one. With just under three minutes to go in the half Terry Taylor would give Pratt their first lead since early in the game at 23-22 but Seward would close the period with a fury, outscoring Pratt 8-0 in the final 2:06 to take a 30-23 lead into the half. The two offensive minded teams combined to shoot just 28% in the first half while Seward managed just 4 field goals inside the three point arc in the 20 minute frame.
The teams would play even for the first five minutes of the second half as the Saints lead remained at seven 37-30 with right at 15 minutes to go on the clock. Pratt however would own the next five minutes of the game as they outscored the Saints 13-4 highlighted by another pair of three point makes for Skouen to erase the Seward advantage and take one of their own as they now led 43-41 as the clock hit the 10 minute mark. The Beavs would take their largest lead of the game moments later on a put back from Cortez Barnes to make it 45-41 but Jones and Nolen would quickly flip the script as the two led a two on one break and Nolen threw Jones a pass off the backboard to which Jones thundered home with a dunk and was fouled where he completed a three point play to cut the Pratt lead to one. Nolen would then pick up an offensive rebound and score to put Seward up one and Jones would rip away his third steal of the game from the Beavers on their next trip down the floor and he would take it all the way and score to put the guys in green ahead 48-45 with under 7 minutes to play. The Saints looked to be in control when Daveon Boardingham took a pass from Nolen and hammered it home to put them up 54-49 with 1:38 to go but the pesky Beavers weren’t ready to give in just yet. Pratt would hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 3 and then picked the pocket of Jones and were fouled where they hit two more free throws to make it a one point game, 54-53. Pratt would foul the Saints and send them to the line in crunch time but Seward wouldn’t respond as they missed both shots of the double bonus and the Beavers wouldn’t let that slip by unnoticed as they immediately took the ball down and scored to the chagrin of the Greenhouse crowd to take a one point 55-54 lead of their own with 14 seconds to go in regulation. On the Saints ensuing trip down the floor Jones would be fouled on a drive and would be sent to the line for a pair of free throws. He hit the first one to tie the game at 55 but missed the second into the waiting hands of Boardinham who threw the ball off a Pratt player as he was falling out of bounds to keep the ball in the hands of the Saints with 7 seconds to go. Seward would call a timeout to set up a play on the final possession of regulation but couldn’t get a long three or a tip in try to fall and the game would be sent to overtime knotted up at 55.
Scoring would be at a premium early in the overtime period as the teams would trade baskets and remain tied with 2:30 to go. That’s when a slashing Jones found Boardingham underneath on the block and the Seward freshman showed his athletic ability with a two handed slam to put Seward up 59-57. The Boardingham dunk would start an 8-0 run for the Saints and it looked as if all was said and done with Seward up 65-57 with just 30 seconds left and the Beavers top 4 scorers all fouled out of the game. The resilient Beavs again wouldn’t roll over though and a quick wing three would cut the Seward lead to 5. The Saints would be fouled and make just one of two free throws and Pratt would get another three point play on a bucket and a foul to cut the Seward lead down to 66-63 with 19 seconds to go. Seward would again make just one of two from the line after a Pratt foul and the Beavers third straight three point play would get them to within one with 12 seconds left in the first overtime. Jones would be fouled immediately on the inbounds and would make both free throw attempts to put the Saints up 69-66 and Pratt would be unable to connect on a guarded three pointer as time expired and Seward would escape with the 69-66 win.
The Saints would shoot a season low 33% in the win while holding Pratt to just 34% from the floor. Seward struggled mightily from the outside in the game, connecting on just 3 of 20 from deep while going 0 for 12 in the second half and overtime. The Saints did force 30 Beaver turnovers and would outscore Pratt 26 to 15 from the free throw line in the contest. Jones again led the Saints in scoring with 22 points while also chipping in 5 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks in the win. Nolen picked up his 4th double-double of the year as he finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 steals.
The win was the Saints 15th of the season in 18 tries and makes them 3-1 in Jayhawk West Conference action. The Seward win, coupled with an upset win by Butler over #1 Hutchinson on Saturday night means that the Saints will now play for a share of first place Monday night when they travel to Concordia to take on the Cloud County T-Birds who are off to a surprise 3-0 start. The Saints will then get the week off before returning to the court Saturday at home when they host Dodge City at 8:00.