Coming into the season, Seward County Head Coach Bryan Zollinger was worried about where his team was offensively. He knew his team was going to be tough to score upon, but wasn’t as set as to where the points were going to come from. Well, if opening weekend was any indication of what is to come, Coach “Z” is in pretty good shape, as his Saints put up 224 points in two contests to come away from week one of the 2011-2012 campaign 2-0.

Remarkably, the Saints actually started slow in their opening game of the 2011 Pepsi Classic against Sterling College’s JV squad. The Warriors were on the board first and Seward didn’t get their first bucket of the game until the 18:06 mark. It was tied 5-5 when Daveon Boardingham ignited the crowd with a thunderous one handed dunk to give Seward the 7-5 lead. Just two possessions later the Saints had another eye opener when Deverell Biggs started a break with a steal and threw a lob pass to Trey Starks for a dunk to make it an 11-5 game. Once the Saints were rolling there was no stopping the green train of offense rolling through the Greenhouse floor. Hayden Harris drilled two three pointers on consecutive trips down the floor to stretch the Saints lead to 15 and moments later Seward went on another barrage from deep as Briston White nailed a pair of three’s and Harris added his third to make it 29-7 Saints with 12 minutes to go in the half. The assault continued on the helpless Sterling defense and after a 3 on 1 resulted in a Boardingham posterization, the route was on with Seward on top 40-9. With hardly an empty possession until the break the Saints exploded for 71 first half points while holding Sterling to just 19 to take a commanding 71-19 lead into the locker rooms. Boardingham had a spectacular half with a number of highlight reel plays and finished with 23 points and 9 rebounds in 18 minutes of work. Seward shot 57% in the period while allowing just 6 Sterling field goals.
Unfortunately for Sterling, even with the Seward starters on the bench to start the second half, the Saints lead continued to swell. Marcus Williamson got into the scoring act right away with an offensive rebound and putback to make it 75-21 and the Seward lead grew to 60 as Starks hit back to back three’s off assists from Reggie Williams to make it 90-28. Seward hit the century mark with nearly 8 minutes to go when Irvin Hollinger finished inside to make it 100-31 and their unrelenting offensive presence persisted until the final minute of the game when a Kaheem Ransom bucket gave them their largest lead at 119-35 which is where it finished.
It was hard to tell which side of the Saints game was more impressive as their defense forced Sterling into 43 turnovers with just 12 field goals while their offense put up 119 points on 54% shooting from the field and 43% shooting from beyond the arc. Six different Saints finished with 14 points or more including Boardingham who didn’t see action in the second half and finished with 23. White connected on 3 of 5 from three point land and finished with 16 points and 5 steals while Harris drilled 4 of 6 from deep to finish with 16 as well. Hollinger was 6 of 11 from the floor and finished with 15 and Starks aerial evening netted him 14 points and 3 assists. Williamson led the team with 11 rebounds off the Saints bench and Williams led the team with 6 assists. The 84 point win was Seward’s largest since December of 2008 when they defeated Haskell Indian Nation JV 125-38.
Saturday night’s contest against God’s Academy Prep was a much easier matchup on paper than the coaches and players knew it would be on the court. The Ambassadors had already went on the road to open the season and knocked off Seminole State and had their sights set on the Saints in front of Seward’s home crowd. Seward once again got off to a slow start and didn’t find the bucket with a field goal until 3 minutes in when Biggs started his big night to put the Saints on top 4-2. Seward stretched their lead out to 13-7 when Brice Jenkins found Hollinger down low for two but two straight God’s Academy hoops quickly made it a one point game 13-12. A stern talk from Zollinger during a timeout lit a fire under the Saints and spawned a 6-0 run to go up 19-12 and the run continued to a 21-2 march to turn it into a blowout as Corieon Pearson dished a ball on the right wing to Jenkins who buried the three to make it 34-14 Saints with 9:04 to go in the period. Seward couldn’t completely shake free of God’s Academy until late in the first half when the score was 41-23 and Starks hit a three pointer to push the Saints lead back over 20 and start a 9-0 run that put them up 50-23 with 2:10 left in the half. The Saints and Ambassadors traded baskets to close the half and into the break Seward went with a 58-31 advantage. Again in top gear, the Saints connected on 54% of their shots from the field and cashed in 13 of 15 trips to the free throw line, good for 87%.
Seward didn’t let up as the second half began and scored 21 points in the first 4 minutes out of the break to take a commanding 79-39 lead. An offensive rebound and putback off a Saints miss from Edson Avila opened their lead to a game high 43 with 14:55 to go in the contest. Seward held their 40+ point advantage as the teams approached the under 10 media timeout but began to get complacent on the defensive side of the ball as the clock wound down. Their 34 point, 101-67 lead with just over 4 minutes left turned to 26 as the Ambassadors closed the game on a 12-4 run to make the score a semi-respectable 105-79 as the final buzzer went off.
Sophomore transfer Biggs led the way for the Saints, just missing a triple-double as he finished with a game high 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists while also not turning the ball over until late in the second half for the first time. Hollinger was solid inside, finishing with 20 points and 6 rebounds while Ransom was 7 for 12 from the floor and finished with 17 points. Avila narrowly missed a double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds in 28 minutes of work and Starks and Jenkins both worked their way into double figures with 10 points apiece.
The Saints now face their first road test of the year after their 2-0 start at home as they travel to Garden City on Friday and Saturday where they will take on Highland and North Platte. Seward will return home on November 18-19 when they take on Redlands and Clarendon in the Billy’s/Days Inn Classic in the Greenhouse at 8:00 both nights.