You can always count on two things when you go to the Beaverdome in Pratt to take on the home team in Jayhawk West action. First, that you are going to get the Beavers best effort and two that they are going to let it fly from the outside on the offensive end. Both of those happened Wednesday night as Seward traveled to Lesh Arena to take on the Beavers as Pratt dominated the first half outside of a standout effort from Saints freshman Edson Avila to take a 35-29 lead into the half. The Saints scratched and clawed to stay in the game before a late burst pushed them over the top and thanks to a big late three pointer from Corieon Pearson, grabbed the lead and took it home en route to a 75-68 win to move into first place in the Jayhawk West.

The first half of the Saints trip into the Beaverdome was tough for the Seward faithful to watch. Not much went right for the guys in green other than the play of big man Edson Avila. Seward couldn’t find a way to get the ball inside and settled for 12 three point attempts in the first half, none of which found their way through the iron. Pratt on the other hand, found a minor chink in the Saints defensive armor, scoring on 59% of their shots inside the three point line to take a pair of 11 point leads midway through the half. The Saints worked their way back into the game thanks to Avila’s hard work in the paint that saw him pull down 9 offensive rebounds on his way to a first half double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. On the other side, the Beavers at times were sloppy with the basketball, turning it over with regularity to see their lead shrink to just 35-29 at the halftime break. The Saints shot a season low 26% in the first half while Pratt finished at 43% in the first 20 minutes.
Seward got into a rhythm as the second half began and stepped up their pressure on the Pratt guards to force even more turnovers, and started to get to the basket on the offensive end, where they had no problem putting points up on the board against the smaller Beaver front line. The Saints got to within two when Deverell Biggs hit a shot to tie the game up midway through but Pratt roared back behind a barrage of three pointers to build their lead back to nine later on. The Saints persistence worked its way through the Beavers down the stretch as they again locked Pratt down on the offensive end of the floor and got a huge three pointer from Pearson to put them on top for good with under 3 minutes remaining. The Saints took care of business from the free throw line in the final minutes and willed their way to a 75-68 win. Seward shot 50% in the second half while Pratt cooled down to 41%. The Saints hit on 13 of 17 from the free throw stripe and Pratt did not attempt a shot from the charity stripe in the final 20 minutes.
Turnovers proved to be the undoing of the Beavers in the loss as the Saints turned the ball over just 15 times compared to 27 for the home team. The Saints also attacked the offensive glass and got 23 second chance opportunities in the game which helped them win the battle on the boards 43-47. Avila finished his best night in the green and black with 17 points and 15 rebounds, including 11 rebounds on the offensive side of the floor. Biggs once again rose to the occasion in the second half after a slow start to finish with a game high 22 points and 7 steals to go along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Irvin Hollinger didn’t back down to the challenge either as the Saints sophomore leader finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds in the win.
The 20th ranked Saints improve to 15-2 overall on the 2011-2012 campaign and take the top spot in the Jayhawk West all to themselves at 3-0 after a Dodge City loss at Colby Wednesday. The Saints return home on Saturday as they host a dangerous Cloud County team at 8:00 in the Greenhouse. Saturday night’s buyout sponsor is McDonald’s with free tickets at both of their Liberal locations.