When Seward County Lady Saints Head Coach Toby Wynn uses the words “one of my most memorable wins” you know it was a special night for the 7th year head man who is 176-40 in his Seward career. Already playing without two key starters and losing another starter midgame, the remaining eight Lady Saints answered the bell, stepping up big to knock off an upstart Barton Lady Cougars on their home floor 75-57 to open the 2012 Jayhawk West Conference schedule in Great Bend on Wednesday night.

Things got off on the right foot for Seward as Anete Kirsteine knocked down a jumper on their first possession and they got out to an 8-5 lead to start the game. Trouble hit at the 14:29 mark when Mariah Lee picked up her second foul, leaving the Lady Saints with just one true post player in Hanna Bognar as Lee had to sit to avoid further first half foul trouble. Barton took advantage of the smaller front line for the Lady Saints to take a 15-12 lead of their own with 11 minutes remaining in the half. Seward then got things back together to go on a 6-0 run to retake the lead 18-15 but the Lady Cougars sliced the lead to one at 20-19 with 7:19 to go in the first period. For the next four minutes the scoreboard remained the same as both teams scuffled on offense and it remained a one point contest with under 4 minutes remaining. That’s when the Lady Saints were dealt yet another blow by the injury bug as Payton Fleming was fouled underneath the Seward basket and twisted her knee awkwardly before leaving the game and not returning for the remainder of the night. Kelsey Blair stepped in and made the two free throws for Fleming and it kick started the Seward freshman to 7 points in the next two minutes to give the Lady Saints a 30-21 lead into the halftime break.
Barton quickly cut the Seward lead to six as the second half started but baskets on back to back trips down the floor by Charmaine Burns had the Lady Saints back up by nine at 37-29 with 16:16 left in the game. After turnovers on three straight possessions, the Seward lead shrank to four and then two after a Barton hoop and with 13:13 remaining it was just a 41-39 game in favor of the Lady Saints. Another Seward miscue and ensuing Barton layup knotted the game for the sixth time of the night, this time at 41 and the teams remained deadlocked until Burns buried another three with 9:41 to put the Lady Saints back on top. Seward built their lead to five on a steal and score from Ricquia Jones and a long bomb from Kirsteine later on but the gals in green up 55-47 with 4:54 left in regulation. The Lady Saints lead ballooned to 12 after a pair of Lee free throws with under three minutes to go and Seward finished the game strong to come away with a somewhat deceiving 75-57 win over the Lady Cougars to open the conference slate.
Seward shook off a slow start offensively where they shot just 30% in the first half to connect on 46% of their second half attempts to finish the night at 38% overall . The Lady Saints knocked down 9 three pointers on the night and hit 71% of their free throw attempts including 16 of 19 in the final period. Burns led the Lady Saints with a career high 21 in the game as she nailed 6 of 10 from the floor including 3 of 6 from deep and 6 of 8 from the free throw line. Kirsteine hit on 5 three’s in the game and ended with 17 points to go along with a team high 7 rebounds. Lee bounced back from a foul plagued first half to finish with 14 points and 5 rebounds and Blair finished a perfect 3 for 3 from the floor and had 9 points in the win. Jones filled up the stat sheet with 9 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals for Seward and Hanna Bognar increased upon her Jayhawk West lead with 6 blocks down low for the victorious Lady Saints.
10th ranked Seward improves to 12-2 overall on the season and more importantly opens conference play with a win to move to 1-0. They now set their sights on their home conference opener on Saturday where they will welcome the Colby Lady Trojans to the Greenhouse for a 6:00 tip. Billy’s is the buyout sponsor and will have free tickets throughout the week for the game. Along with basketball the night will also be filled with other entertainment as the Perryton PIP’s will perform at halftime of the Lady Saints game, the inaugural Saints Hall of Fame class will be announced between games, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters will be recognized during halftime of the Men’s game.