In one of the toughest road venues in the Jayhawk Conference, in Bryant Gymnasium at Cloud County, the Seward County Lady Saints fought hard to the very end but would fall by a score of 56-48 thanks in large part to a 19-2 T-Bird run to close the first half and start the second half. The Lady Saints would trail by as many as 5 in the first half before storming back to take a late 7 point lead in the half but Cloud would start their run then and Seward would never recover as that would eventually prove to be the difference in the 8 point defeat.
Two defensive minded teams in Seward and Cloud were ready to go toe to toe in a battle between two of the historically upper echelon teams in the Jayhawk West Conference. Each team would pick up a field goal and a pair of free throws early but couldn’t find their rhythm as they were tied at 4, four minutes in. Another Cloud free throw would give them the lead but a corner three from Mattie Yanke would put the Lady Saints up a pair, 7-5. Seward would hold the two point advantage to the 12:13 mark when Cloud would knot the game up for the fourth time on the night. The Lady T-Birds would keep their momentum rolling and would go on a 8-1 run to the 8:40 mark and would take their largest lead of the half at 15-10. Mariah Lee and Morgan Skomal would score inside to cut the deficit to one and after a Cloud basket in the paint Ashlynn Knoll would continue her hot start with a three from the top of the key to tie the game up at 17. The teams would trade made shots and would stay tied at 19 with under six minutes to go in the half when the Lady Saints would make their move. Hanna Bognar would score four straight points and Knoll would score four as well as Seward went on a 9-2 spurt to take their largest lead of the half at 28-21 with just :31 seconds to go in the half. Just when it looked like the Lady Saints would go into the break smelling like roses the Lady T-Birds decided they would change that as a pair of free throws and a last second three would cut the Seward advantage to just two, but the Lady Saints would still go into the locker rooms up 28-26 at the break.
After closing the first half on a 5-0 run the Lady T-Birds would continue their blitz on the Lady Saints as the second half started as Satavia Taylor hit a three pointer to give Cloud the lead just :09 seconds in and it wouldn’t get any better for the gals in green. Cloud would run their lead all the way to 40-30 before Seward could pick themselves back up off the ground and with just 15:40 to go in the game, the Lady Saints knew it would be a tough task to come back on enemy territory now. However, the young Seward group would push back against the conference leading T-Birds as Kayla Thomas sunk a jumper, Skomal knocked down a pair of free throws, and Lee finished one inside to cut the T-Bird advantage to just 40-36, now with under 12 minutes remaining. Cloud would get the lead back to 9 before the 10 minute mark hit but Seward would continue to scratch and claw as Kelsey Willson hit both attempts from the line with 6:38 to go to bring Seward back to within four at 48-44. The Lady Saints would step things up a notch on the defensive end of the floor and would get it to a one possession game when Willson sunk two more free throws to make it 50-48 with just 2:41 remaining in the second half. Cloud would quickly score out of a timeout to push their lead to four and the Lady Saints offense simply couldn’t get anything going in the final two minutes as four untimely turnovers would be their undoing as the Lady T-Birds would bury their free throw chances when the Lady Saints were forced to foul in the final minute and would go on to win 56-48.
The Lady Saints would struggle to just 30% shooting on the night while committing 26 turnovers in the game. Knoll would be the only Seward player to reach double figures in scoring as she finished with 13 points to go along with 7 rebounds in the game while Bognar was the Lady Saints next highest scorer as she finished with 7 points and a team high 8 rebounds. Thomas played all 40 minutes of the game for the second time in three nights and finished with 5 points and 5 assists and Skomal chipped in 6 points and 7 rebounds in the defeat. The win for Cloud County Head Coach Brett Erkenbrack was his 500th in his 22nd year at the helm for the Lady T-Birds.
The loss drops Seward County to 13-6 overall on the year and 3-2 in Jayhawk West Conference action. They will now get a much needed four days off before hitting the court again on Saturday when they will host the struggling Dodge City Lady Conquistadors in the Greenhouse at 6:00. Saturday will be Morgan Skomal poster night so make sure to grab your free poster of Morgan at the entrances and have her sign it at halftime of the Men’s game outside the concession stand. Free tickets for Saturday’s game are available at Sunflower Bank, McDonald’s, and Hutch’s, courtesy of our buyout sponsor Sunflower Bank.