You couldn’t have written a better script for 5 Seward County Saints sophomores playing their final Jayhawk West Conference Game in the friendly confines of the Greenhouse. After a pair of disappointing losses back to back, the team still had their chance to wrap up the conference title, in their own building, on sophomore night, against one of their arch rivals, the Garden City Broncbusters. In a first half of runs, the Saints would go up 12 early before Garden stormed back to take a lead of their own midway through and then the Saints closed the half on a big run to take a double digit lead into the break. Seward would build their lead and hold it through most of the second half until blowing it open late and coming away with an 84-59 win to clinch the Jayhawk West title and the #1 seed in next week’s Region VI Tournament.

Seward got on the board right away as Jeremy Jones would pick the pocket of Silas Mills Jr. and take it the other way for a pull up jumper that found the bottom of the net to make it 2-0 Saints. The Saints would quickly go up 4-0 after a steal and score from Marquez Patterson and a short time later built their lead to 16-5 after a three pointer from Rafriel Guthrie with 13:57 to go in the half. The Saints held onto the double digit lead and remained up by 10 points with 11:25 to go in the half but Garden City would go on an 11-0 run in the next 3 minutes to erase the Saints lead and take a 25-24 lead of their own as the Seward offense sputtered. Marky Nolen would break the Busters run with a pair of free throws to put the Saints back on top and a Patterson three and a Nolen bucket inside would quickly put the Saints back up 31-25 with 5:30 remaining in the period. Garden City would get back to within one possession with a three pointer but Seward would close the half on a 13-4 march in less than four minutes and would hold a comfortable 44-32 lead at the halftime break. Patterson would lead all scorers at the half with 13 and would lead a Seward attack that shot 58% in the first 20 minutes.
The teams would go back and forth for a good portion of the first part of the second half and 6 minutes in it was still a 12 point game at 56-44. After a free throw by Garden, Irvin Hollinger would get a put back off of an offensive rebound to put the Saints ahead 58-45 and the teams would trade field goals to make it 60-47 with 12:10 to go in the game. A two minute draught on the offensive end for Seward would see Garden get to within single digits for the first time in nearly 15 minutes but from the media timeout on it was all Seward County. Daveon Boardingham would get a three point play after being fouled by Mills Jr. and would get the Busters forward again on the other end of the court as he sent his shot attempt back into the 3rd row of the green seats with a blocked shot. After Garden got the ball in off of the inbounds, Nolen would get a steal and lead a 4 on 0 break for the Saints while would lead to a highlight reel ally-oop from sophomore to sophomore as Nolen fed Jones for the slam to put Seward ahead 67-51. The play seemed to have taken all of the air out of the Garden sails as the Busters came into the night with a chance to get to within one game of the Saints in the race for the top spot in the conference. The spread would remain at 16 as the four minute mark ticked by and the Saints would take advantage of some sloppy Garden City play as the game neared its end, closing the game on an 11-2 run to come away with the 84-59 win to seal up the Jayhawk West Conference Championship.
The Saints would find six different players in double figures as the game came to an end while Garden City would have just two players reach the 10 point mark and neither over 10 on the night. Seward would scorch the nets at a 56% clip on the night and held Garden City to just 43% shooting and 19% from the three point line. Jones would lead the way for Seward, going 6 of 12, good for 17 points and 6 assists on the night while Patterson had a nearly identical line with 16 points and 6 assists. Nolen and Guthrie would each get 13 points in the win while Nolen also picked up a game high 8 rebounds while Guthrie had 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Seward’s freshman frontline of Hollinger and Boardingham would combine to go 9 for 12 from the field and would each score 11 points.
The 21st ranked Saints now have a weight lifted off their chest for a few days as they have clinched the conference title outright, regardless of what happens Saturday night around the league. Their 11-4 Jayhawk West record is 2 games better than both Hutchinson and Cloud County with just 1 game remaining. The win over the Busters also means that Seward will be the #1 seed for the upcoming Region VI Tournament starting on Tuesday and the Saints now know that they will host the Labette Cardinals in that first round game in the Greenhouse with the time to be determined. Next up for the Saints however will be a trip to the Power Plant in El Dorado where Seward will take on the defending Region VI Champion Butler Grizzles at 7:30 on Saturday night.
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!