All signs pointed towards an upset alert Saturday night as the conference leading Seward County Saints headed to Dodge City to take on a Conquistadors team that had yet to lose on their home court and had proved a menace to the Saints the past two years in the Civic Center, winning lopsided contests against the highly favored Saints. But, with only two returners from last yearís Jayhawk West Conference Championship team, the 2011-2012 Seward squad didnít know all of that and went out and broke the two streaks as the Saints offense carried them to a 42-40 halftime lead before their defense clamped the Conqs down in the second half to come away with an 81-75 victory on the road.

With both teams facing adversity numbers wise because of injuries and roster changes, the rival Saints and Conqs both hit the Civic Center floor shorthanded Saturday night in Dodge. The Conquistadors got out to an early lead but the high powered Saints pushed right back and took an early 8-4 lead of their own on a finish inside from Irvin Hollinger. After a Dodge City run, Seward once again raced out in front and led 20-13 after a pair of free throw line jumpers from Corieon Pearson midway through the half. The Seward lead remained at seven later on until a pair of Saints hoops gave them their first double digit lead of the contest at 40-30 with just two minutes to go in the half. Just when it looked like the Saints were going to have a comfortable lead going into the locker rooms, a 10-2 Dodge burst before the break made it a game once again and the Seward lead was just 42-40 as the teams wrapped up the first 20 minutes of action. The Saints hit 49% from the field in the first half and sank 3 of 6 from beyond the arc while Dodge City was equally as impressive on the offensive side of the floor as they hit 52% of their shot attempts and 4 of 11 from downtown.
The Conqs tied things up right off the bat as the second half started but maybe the play of the game occurred on the next possession as Saints guard Kaheem Ransom nailed a three pointer, falling out of bounds with the shot clock winding down to immediately give Seward the momentum back. The Saints used that big shot to go on a mini run to extend their lead to seven and that is where it stayed throughout the majority of the half. Seward built their lead back up to double digits a pair of times but Dodge City kept scratching back to make it close and the Saints just couldnít seem to give the finishing blow to the Conqs. It was a five point game with 8 minutes to go when Seward was dealt a pair of big shots as Deverell Biggs was whistled for his fourth foul with 8:15 left and big man Edson Avila was called for his fourth on the next possession to send them both to the bench. The Saints persevered through and came up with big shot after big shot thanks to Pearson, Ransom, and Hollinger to remain in front. Dodge City kept themselves in the game though with a number of second chance points and the game remained a six point spread with three minutes to go. A Conq basket with under two minutes left made it a three point game but Hollinger stepped to the line and knocked down a pair to push it back to five and Ransom did the same on the Saints next trip to make it a seven point contest. Seward didnít execute to perfection down the stretch with three missed free throws and a pair of turnovers but their defense dug their heels in and stopped Dodge from getting back into the game as they finished the Conqs off 81-75 for their 10th straight win. Seward slowed to just 35% shooting in the second half but held the Conqs to just 29% and 1 of 13 from downtown to come away with the win.
Hollinger picked the right time to dial up his first career double-double as he followed a career high 24 point performance one week ago against Cloud County with a 22 point, 11 rebound effort against Dodge City in the win. Ransom started slow, but finished strong with 15 second half points to finish with 20 and Pearson hit on 7 of 9 shots from the floor to score a career high 16 for the Saints in the victory. Biggs battled foul trouble all night but still managed to score 13 and Avila scored just 6 points but grabbed a game high 12 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive end for the Saints.
The 12th ranked Saints win their 10th straight game and move their overall record to 17-2 and their Jayhawk West mark to a perfect 5-0 on the 2011-2012 campaign. Next up is a return home to the friendly confines of the Greenhouse where they will dual with a very talented Garden City team that has limped out to a surprising 2-4 start in West action. The Saints and Busters will get things under way at 8:00 on Wednesday with free tickets available thanks to our buyout sponsor Bank of Beaver City at their location on Kansas and Tucker.