As expected, the #17 Seward County Saints made short work of the hapless Labette Cardinals Tuesday night in the Greenhouse during the 1st round of the 2011 Region VI Basketball Tournament. The game was actually somewhat close early as the Saints led by just 3 eight minutes in but they quickly stretched that lead to double digits before taking a 23 point halftime lead and cruising to a 99-63 win thanks in part to some second half highlight reel dunks and drives to the basket.

The poor Labette Cardinals were forced to come across the state to Liberal for the 1st round after an 0-18 conference season that saw them finish with just 6 players on their active roster. However, a slow shooting start for the Saints would keep the Cards in the game early on as Seward would lead just 12-7, six minutes into the game after a layup from Marquez Patterson and would have their lead cut to just 3 moments later as the 12 minute mark came and went with the score 14-11 in favor of the Saints. That is when Seward would wake up and Labette would be in trouble. Jeremy Jones made back to back three pointers to put the Saints up 9 and Seward would get five more points on their 11-0 run before going ahead 25-11 with 8:46 remaining. The Saints would really start to pour it on Labette as the Cardinals turnovers began to pile up and a Rafriel Guthrie to Phil Hawkins connection would put the guys in green on top 36-15 with just under four minutes left in the half. Seward would take their largest lead of the half at 45-19 with under a minute to go in the period as a pair of Patterson free throws capped an amazing 31-8 run for the Saints through the later part of the half. The Saints would go to the break ahead 47-24 as they shot 53% from the field while holding Labette to just 22% in the period.
The second half would start sloppy for both teams as a bevy of turnovers and a lackluster effort on the defensive end of the court for both teams would see the Saints on top 61-36 with 13:47 left in the game. After a steal and score for Labette, Hawkins would connect with Irvin Hollinger on the inside for a left-handed slam to again make it a 25 point game. Then the Saints would start having a little bit of fun, they would go on a 10-0 spurt in just 1:30 to go ahead 73-38 and would maintain a comfortable margin to the 8 minute mark where the basketball term of “foul trouble” took on a whole new meaning as a whistle saw the Cardinals third player pick up their fourth foul in the game. Now this normally wouldn’t be a big deal but remember, Labette came to Liberal with just six players. The two teams would score at will for the next four minutes of the game as the Cardinals couldn’t afford to risk a foul when the Saints had the ball and the Saints were trying to avoid delaying the inevitable by fouling Labette on their side of the court. The Saints would hold a 24 point lead with 4:15 to go when Hollinger hit a cutting Daveon Boardingham for a monster two handed dunk to highlight the night and put an exclamation point on the Saints advance to the next round. Another interesting side note occurred with the game all but over as the Cardinals Terrance Smith was called for his fifth foul of the game with 2:39 remaining in the game to leave Labette with just five eligible players and then Travion Fleeks was called for his fifth and final foul of the game with under a minute remaining to force the Cardinals to finish the game with just four players. Labette would dribble the clock out on their final possession and the Saints would advance to Wichita and the second round of the Region VI Tournament with a 99-63 win over the Cards.
The Saints would finish the game shooting 60% from the floor including a season high 68% in the second half of the game. Labette managed just 35% in the contest while turning the ball over 22 times. Individually for Seward it was Marky Nolen fittingly leading the way in his final game in the Greenhouse. The sophomore forward racked up 20 points and 12 rebounds on the night in his 12th double-double of the 2010-2011 season. Four other Saints would also crack double digit points on the night as Jones poured in 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting in just 20 minutes of action, Hollinger scored a career high 15 on 6 of 9 from the floor, Patterson picked up 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting, and Guthrie finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds as well as 5 assists. Two other career highs were also set in the Seward County win as Isaiah Thaw scored a career high 7 in his final home game for the Saints and Chris Chaney distributed a career high 5 assists in his farewell to his hometown.
The win pushes the tournament’s top ranked team to 25-6 overall on the season and advances them to the round of eight set to begin in Wichita on Saturday. The Saints draw the Kansas City Kansas Blue Devils who are having their best season in school history with a school record 25 wins so far on the 2010-2011 campaign. Those two teams will square off in the first game of the day on Saturday tipping at 1:00 at Wichita State Universities Koch Arena.