After dropping their first game in 9 years to Garden City in the teamís first match of the season and arguably falling to their lowest point of the 2010-2011 season after the loss, the Seward County Lady Saints bounced back Wednesday night in a sophomore night victory over the Lady Busters 62-59 to keep their home playoff chances alive. Seward held a comfortable lead most of the night but Garden City, who had nothing on the line in the game, fought hard to get back into the game and would make it close late before going ahead with 3 minutes remaining. They would hold the lead into the final 30 seconds of the game when Sewardís Kayla Thomas stepped up and hit a pair of huge free throws with 22 seconds remaining to give the Lady Saints the lead and that would be the difference in the end as a defensive stop would yield Seward their 9th conference win of the season.

Seward couldnít have started the game any better as they jumped on top of the Lady Busters right away to the tune of a 7-0 lead two minutes into things on a pair of buckets from Ashlynn Knoll and a three pointer from Thomas. Garden City would chip away at the Seward lead and as the 14 minute mark hit the teams were all tied at 10. Knoll and Thomas continued to be the difference for the Lady Saints as Knoll made a basket to untie the game and then hit a three to put Seward up 5. Thomas would then find a seam and score and after a Garden bucket to break a 7-0 Seward run, the two were at it again as Thomas connected with Knoll in the lane for a jumper to put Seward ahead 19-12 midway through the half. After a good start offensively for both teams, the two offenses went ice cold after the media timeout as Seward would score just 2 points in the next 6 minutes and the Lady Busters couldnít take much advantage of it as they scored just 6 to make it a 21-18 game with 4:45 to go in the half. The Lady Busters would get it to a one point game with 3:27 remaining until the break but Seward would close the half on a 9-2 run to take a 32-24 lead into the break. Seward would struggle offensively in the half outside of Knoll as the Lady Saints shot just 28% in the first 20 minutes despite a 12 point 5 rebound half from the freshman but would benefit from 7 offensive rebounds and 13 Garden turnovers to take the 8 point lead into the locker room.
Neither team would dent the scoreboard for the first 4 minutes of the second half as a basket from Mariah Lee with 15:59 on the clock was the first points of the period. For Seward it would be the only points in the first 6:27 of the half as they let Garden back into the game after building the 10 point lead and would find themselves eye to eye with the Lady Busters at the 13:52 mark as Ashley Walker hit a three to knot things up at 34. Autumn Miller would break the tie for Seward with a big three point basket to put them up 37-34. From there on it was all Knoll for Seward as the freshman forward single handedly kept them in the game, literally. In the next 9:10 the scoreboard would go 18 for Knoll and 18 for Garden City, keeping the Lady Saints lead at 3, 55-52. Hannah Rotolo would make a free throw to put the Lady Saints up four with 4:43 to go but Garden would go on a 5-0 burst in the next 1:30 and would have their first lead of the second half with 3:26 to go. Sewardís deficit remained 1 into the final minute of the game as their offense again went into a stalemate. With under 30 seconds remaining and the shot clock ticking down under 5, Thomas took matters into her own hands and drove to the basket where she was fouled with 22 seconds left and was sent to the line for a pair of free throws with her team down 59-58. Thomas, just a 53% free throw shooter, stepped to the line calm, cool, and collected and nailed both free throws to give the Lady Saints a 60-59 lead. An offensive foul would give Seward the ball back and they would be fouled and make one out of two from line to go up 61-59. On Gardenís next possession they would drive to the basket and get fouled but their leading scorer in the game Walker, who had hit 7 straight free throws would not be able to continue and shoot the free throws and would have to come out in favor of Carly Schmale who missed both free throws and Seward would get the rebound, and hit another free throw after being fouled to go ahead by 3 with 1.9 seconds left. The number was eerie for Seward fans as that was the same number that was on the clock in the teamsí first meeting of the season when Garden City hit a shot and beat the Lady Saints in the Perryman Center. This time there would be no such heroics as Garden would not even get a shot off and the Lady Saints would hold on to the 62-59 win.
Knoll was the story in this one for Seward as she would finish the night with a career high 32 points and 8 rebounds, the most points any Lady Saint has scored in a game since Rachel Barnes went for 41 in last seasonís Region VI Tournament against Cowley. Thomas would finish with 9 and Mattie Yanke would get 7 as the Lady Saints kept their home playoff hopes alive.
The win moves Seward one win closer to the elusive 20 win mark as they now sit at 19-10 and 9-6 in conference play. A Butler loss to Cloud County Wednesday now means that the two are tied for 4th place in the Jayhawk West and ironically enough they will square off in El Dorado Saturday night for all the marbles. A Seward win would see them clinch 4th place and take on either Labette or Ft. Scott Tuesday in the Greenhouse for the Region VI Tournament 1st round game while a loss would send them on the road to the far reaches of the state and Kansas City, Kansas CC on Tuesday. The tip for that game will be at 5:30 from the Power Plant.
For a photo gallery of everything going on in the Greenhouse last night click on the link below. It contains pictures of all of the Seward County sophomore groups, as well as the cheer clinic, both games, and more!
SOPHOMORE NIGHT PHOTO GALLERY
SEWARD COUNTY/GARDEN CITY BOX SCORE