In a battle to see who would become the first four win team in the Jayhawk West Conference, the Seward County Saints showed the Cloud County Thunderbirds who was boss, at least for now, in a dominating 80-57 win in Bryant Gymnasium in Concordia Monday night. The Saints would bolt out to a 13-0 lead and would take as much as a 27 point lead in the first half before coasting to the finish line to the tune of a 23 point win in a battle for first place in the conference.
Seward got the scoring going in the marquee matchup between two of the conference’s best teams as Marky Nolen scored on the Saints first possession and set off a bombardment of offense by the guys in green in the opening minutes of the game. In fact, Nolen would score 8 points in the first 3:15 of the game and the Saints other Markee, Mazyck would bang home a three from the wing and Seward was up 11-0 and then 13-0 after a drive and score from Rafriel Guthrie at the 16 minute mark. The T-Birds would go on a quick 7-0 run of their own to cut the Saints lead to 6 which is where the spread stood until Jeremy Jones hit a three from the wing off a dish from Phil Hawkins to make it 21-12 Seward with 10:57 to go in the half. The make by Jones would ignite his fire as the Saints sophomore would drill two more three pointers on Seward’s next two trips down the floor to stretch the lead to 11. Both offenses would slow down considerably through the next four minutes but Jones wasn’t done with his aerial assault as he splashed home his 4th and then 5th three of the half with 4:21 to go to put Seward County up 36-17 in the game. As Cloud began to turn their attention to Jones on the outside, he decided he would share the wealth with his teammates and would dish assists to Guthrie who would nail two more three balls for the Saints to put them up 25 and as the sharing circle continued, Guthrie would find Irvin Hollinger on the block who would promptly slam one home to give the guys in green a 44-17 lead with 3 minutes remaining in the first period. As the first half came to a close it was Seward on top 48-22 against the T-Birds who hadn’t yet lost a home game in Bryant Gymnasium all year.
The Saints wouldn’t slow down as the second half started as Daveon Boardingham got into the act with an offensive rebound and finish in the paint to give Seward their 50th point of the game and the Saints offensive prowess would continue to shine through as Jones scored 5 straight to give the Saints their largest lead of the game at 59-28 with 15:55 to go. With it pretty clear that the T-Birds were about to suffer their first conference loss of the 2011 season, the Saints kept on piling up the points, taking as much as a 33 point second half lead before eventually going on to win by 23, 80-57.
While the Seward offense was the element on display in the game, it was their defense that shined even brighter on the stat sheet as they held a high scoring Cloud County team who scored 96 on Pratt just one week ago, to just 29% shooting and the 57 points in the game. The Saints also took care of the ball in the win, turning the ball over just 8 times after coughing it up 19 times in their overtime win over Pratt on Saturday night. Jones would lead the way individually for Seward, leading the team with 26 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the 3-point line and 8 of 15 overall. Nolen notched his second straight double-double while playing just 21 minutes as he finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds after the hot start and Daveon Boardingham narrowly missed a double-double of his own with 11 points and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
The Saints win their 11th game in their past 12 tries and are now 16-3 overall on the season. More importantly the win now pushes the Saints to the top of the Jayhawk West standings where they stand alone for the moment at 4-1. They have their first half bye on Wednesday and will return to the court to take on Dodge City on Saturday at 8:00 in the Greenhouse. Sunflower Bank is our game buyout sponsor on Saturday and will be supplying free tickets at their Liberal bank location as well as at McDonald’s and Hutch’s throughout the week.