Last season, the Odessa Wranglers came into the Greenhouse undefeated and suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Seward County Saints. This year, in the OC Sports Arena in the Lone Star State, the Wranglers returned the favor, dropping Seward 74-55 to give the Saints their first loss of the 2011 campaign. But, following the loss the Saints came back with a 63-54 win over New Mexico JC

on Saturday thanks in large part to a career best effort from Irvin Hollinger to come home following the Thanksgiving holiday with a 1-1 record for the weekend and a 7-1 record overall.
In their first matchup of the weekend the Saints took on a powerful Odessa club that boasts the early season National Player of the Year favorite Derrick Barden. The first half was evenly matched as the teams took turns going back and forth before the Wranglers ran out to a 33-25 lead at the break. Odessa outshot Seward 45-41% in the first half while both teams struggled from the line with the Saints going just 1 for 4 and the Wranglers 4 for 10. In the second half the physicality of the Odessa front line began to wear on the Saints as they dominated the paint and began to pull away midway through the half before claiming their largest lead late and going on to win 74-55. The boards were controlled by Odessa who outrebounded the Saints 44-28 while the Wranglers found their way to the free throw line with more frequency as well, gaining a 16-5 edge on points from the charity stripe in the ballgame. Four Saints reached double figures in the loss as Deverell Biggs led the team with 13 points and 4 steals while Irvin Hollinger had 12, Kaheem Ransom had 11, and Brice Jenkins finished with 10. For Odessa it was Barden leading the way as expected with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
Early on in Saturday’s game against New Mexico Junior College it looked like the Saints Thanksgiving dinner hangover was going to be extended through the weekend. The T-Birds raced out to an 11-3 lead before Seward got things together and began to climb back into the game. However, the normally stingy Saints defense was less than advertised early on against New Mexico and a 58% shooting effort in the first half from the T-Birds had Seward in a 33-26 hole at the break. After a stern talking to at halftime, Seward responded by coming out of the gates in the second half rejuvenated. Defensive stops followed by solid offensive possessions equated into Seward slicing away at the New Mexico lead before they took the bull by the horns late to come away with a 63-54 win. Seward held New Mexico just 6 second half field goals with cashing in 48% of their shots on the offensive end of the floor. Much of the Saints success came on the shoulders of sophomore Irvin Hollinger who poured in a career high 26 points on 11 of 18 shooting for Seward. Corieon Pearson finished a perfect 4 of 4 from the field and was second on the team with 9 points while big men Edson Avila and Daveon Boardingham combined for 14 points and 13 rebounds down low.
The Saints are now 7-1 overall on the season and turn their sights back to the Greenhouse where they will play their final four games before the Holiday Break. Friday night they will open the Conestoga Classic with a date against the Colorado Kings at 8:00 and will follow that up with a matchup against McCook on Saturday at 8:00. Free tickets are available thanks to our buyout sponsor Conestoga at their local offices as well as Liberal Office Machines, Community Bank, Pizza Hut, and Express Lanes stores at 15th & Western, Hwy 54 & Western, and on Pancake.