The Seward County Lady Saints opened their 2011-2012 home schedule with a pair of convincing wins this weekend in the Pepsi Classic to move to 3-0 overall on the season.

. In their home opener, the Lady Saints took on Southwestern Christian and jumped out early and never looked back in a 95-44 win. Saturday night, Seward took on Air Force Prep and struggled at times in the first half before getting it together and coming away with a 75-60 win to stay perfect on the year.
Seward started the scoring early and often as Kayla Thomas got them on the board first in their possession and started an 11-0 Lady Saints run to open the game. Southwestern Christian finally got on the board at the 16:17 mark but Seward quickly rebounded and pushed their lead up to 21-4 moments later on a basket inside from Hanna Bognar. The Lady Saints pace slowed on the offensive end of the floor and the Lady Rams were able to cut the Seward advantage to 25-13 after a three pointer with 10:31 to go in the half. Seward responded with a three of their own off the fingertips of Anete Kirsteine to go back up by 15 and their lead hit 20 with a jumper from Thomas that made it 33-13. The rejuvenated offensive attack continued as the Lady Saints turned defense into offense and led 39-13 at the 4:31 mark after holding Southwestern Christian scoreless for over 6 minutes. A field goal from Mariah Lee inside put the Lady Saints up 52-20 in the final minute of the half and that is where the teams went into the locker room for the break. Seward dominated the period, shooting 54% from the field while holding the Lady Rams to just 18% and outrebounding Southwestern Christian 35-20 in the first 20 minutes. Lee had herself a career half as she put up a game high 18 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone.
The gals in green did not let up as the second half began as Kirsteine drilled a three pointer out of the break to make it 55-20 and Lee scored off of a turnover to make it 57-20 Lady Saints. Their foot remained sternly on the pedal and four minutes into the half the Lady Saints led 66-20 following a 14-0 run to start the half. With the game well in hand, the Lady Saints put it in cruise control and soon opened up a 50 point lead when Kelsey Blair finished a three point play with a bucket and a foul to make it 86-36. Later on the Lady Saints took their largest lead of the game when LaQuecia Parker knocked down a free throw to make it 95-38 with 1:19 remaining and Seward went on to win 95-44.
The Seward stat sheet sparkled after the game as the Lady Saints shot 51% in the win and held the Lady Rams to just 21% shooting. Lee finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds while fellow 2011 All-American Ashlynn Knoll had 14 points and 7 rebounds. Bognar was 3 for 5 from the floor and finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds and Blair and Thomas both broke into double figures in scoring with 11 and 10 points respectively.
The Lady Saints second game of the weekend Saturday night against Air Force Prep did not start as favorably as their opening night victory over the Lady Rams however. In fact, four minutes into the game, the Lady Saints were still looking for their first points and trailed 7-0. After a free throw got them on the board, Seward’s first field goal came out of the hands of Blair who stepped up and knocked down a three pointer to make it 7-4 at the 15:32 mark of the game. A Charmaine Burns three off of a dish from Knoll tied the game up at 7 but Seward quickly fell back behind as they were unable to stop the Huskies on their next possession. Seward trailed until the 8:41 mark of the first half when Ricquia Jones made a layup after a steal to put the Lady Saints ahead 14-13. They built upon their lead later on when Peyton Flemming connected on a three pointer to make it 19-13 and another long bomb from Flemming put Seward on top 26-19 at the 5:56 mark to play in the half. As Seward started to get their rhythm going, their lead swelled and after Jones connected with Bognar on a drive for a score, the Lady Saints led by an even dozen 38-26, which is where the teams were as the halftime horn sounded and they headed to the locker rooms.
Seward quickly expanded their lead to 15 out of the halftime break on another three pointer from Kirsteine and opened it up to 18 when Flemming drilled a three of her own on a dish from Mattie Yanke to make it 50-32 Lady Saints with 13:26 to go. The teams played even through the midway point of the second half and Seward carried a comfortable double digit lead into the later stages of the game. The Lady Saints lead grew to 20 when Yanke and Thomas executed a 2 on 1 to perfection with 5:51 to go and it looked as if Seward was set to run away with the game with the score 66-46. The Huskies didn’t have the same plans however and they put together a 13-4 run during a four minute stretch to cut the Lady Saints lead to 70-59 with just under two minutes left. The run woke Seward up and a finish inside from Bognar and a three pointer from Kirsteine sealed the deal as the Lady Saints finished the game out strong to go on and win 75-60.
Strong offensive performances by Knoll and Kirsteine propelled Seward to the victory as Kirsteine finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 steals while Knoll finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds in the win. Flemming cracked double figures with 11 including 3 of 4 from deep and Jones ran the Seward offense to perfection from the point with 8 assists and just 2 turnovers.
The Lady Saints 2-0 weekend pushes them to 3-0 in the early going of 2011-2012. Seward’s road will get tougher this week however as they have dates with the defending Division II Champion Monroe Mustangs on Thursday in Marianna, Florida and a very talented Tallahassee CC team on Friday in the Sunshine State. Seward will return home November 18-19 when they host the Billy’s/Days Inn Classic in the Greenhouse.