The Seward County Saints raced out to a good start and never let up Saturday night as they went on to hammer the defending Region VI Champions Butler Grizzlies 86-65 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final score looked. The Saints would take a 12-2 lead in the first 2:45 of the game and would lead by 21 as the teams went to the locker rooms at half. After the break the guys in green would continue to pour it on, going up by as many as 31 midway through before finishing off a Grizzlies team who had beaten both Hutchinson and Cloud County, by a 21 point spread.
The matchup would start with a bang for Seward as Rafriel Guthrie would can a left win three pointer to open up the scoring and after Josh Gibbs scored on Butlers first possessions the Saints would go on a 9-0 run in just 1:45 with buckets by four different players to put Seward up 12-2 at the 17 minute mark. The Grizzlies would claw back into the game, holding the high flying Saints to just 3 points in four minutes while hitting 3 three pointers of their own en route to cutting the Seward lead to just 15-12. Butler would get to as close as two as the midway point of the half hit but the Saints would quickly extend upon their lead as Daveon Boardingham completed a three point play and Phil Hawkins scored in transition to make it 25-18 Seward with 8:22 to go in the half. Later on, Marquez Patterson would hit a trailing Marky Nolen at the top of the key for a three pointer to put the Saints up 32-21 and they weren’t done there. They would find themselves up a dozen with 3:14 left in the half and would go on a 9-0 run in just 1:20 with a barrage of action coming from Nolen and Jeremy Jones to take a 21 point, 47-26 lead. The Grizzlies would break up the run with a basket inside but the Saints would score the last hoop of the half and would take a 49-28 advantage into the half after 20 minutes of play. The Saints blistered the nets in the first half, shooting 58% as a team and turning the ball over just 3 times while holding Butler to 39% and forcing almost twice as many Grizzly turnovers (16) as field goals made (9) in the period.
The two teams would play even through the first five minutes of the second half as the Saints continued to lead by 21, 59-38 as the 15 minute mark hit. The Grizzlies would only get to within 17 and no closer as the Saints kept putting the offensive pressure on them. A mid-half 13-1 stint for Seward would all but seal the deal on Butler as the Grizzlies would find themselves down 72-43 with just 10:21 remaining in the game. A few minutes later the highlight of the night would come as Butler attempted to put a full court press on the Saints out of a timeout, to which Seward quickly threw the ball over the top to Jones to create a two on one with he and Boardingham. As Jones glided up the court it was pretty evident what his intentions were as Boardingham took a step back, got an approach and took off into the air as Jones lobbed the ball up, which found the big man’s hands and was flushed home, over Butler’s Andrew Victoria who could do nothing but put his head down as he became the business end of what basketball fans like to call a ‘posterization’. The play electrified all of those who hadn’t yet left the blowout and would put Seward up 31 with under eight minutes to go and while Butler would cut into the lead as time wound down, the Saints would still find themselves on top of an 86-65 victory as time expired.
Seward’s offense was clicking in the win as they finished the game shooting 52% from the field as 6 players reached double figures on the night. The Saints would force 32 Butler turnovers, more than making up for the 21 offensive rebounds the Grizzlies would grab in the contest. Leading the way individually for the Saints would be Boardingham who scored a career high 18 points and had 6 rebounds while Jones finished a quiet night for his standards with 14 points and 7 assists. Nolen would notch his 5th straight double-double in the win, chalking up 13 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 5 assists and 4 steals while Hawkins, Guthrie, and Irvin Hollinger all reached double figures as well.
The win leaves Seward in 1st place in the Jayhawk West as the first half of conference action comes to a close. They are now 19-3 overall and 7-1 in conference play with the only team that has handed them a loss in the past 58 days coming to town on Wednesday. The Saints and the Hutchinson Blue Dragons will square off for the second time this season as Seward looks to avenge their earlier defeat in the Sports Arena while Hutch will try and knock the Saints back to the pack in the conference standings. With the game falling on the 33rd day of 2011, during the game on Wednesday, SCCC/ATS will celebrate being named the 33rd best community college in the country by Washington Monthly with a number of festivities and giveaways including free t-shirts and mini-balls. The night will also be Jeremy Jones poster night so make sure to pick up your free poster of Jeremy at any of the entrances and have him sign it at halftime of the Lady Saints game outside of the concession stand. Free tickets will be available courtesy of our buyout sponsor McDonald’s, at either of their Liberal locations through Wednesday.