On the heels of three straight subpar performances, Seward County fans weren’t quite sure to expect as the #12 Saints ran up against #9 Barton in a battle for 1st place to kick off the second half of Jayhawk West Conference play on Saturday night in the Greenhouse. The Saints proved early that they were up for the challenge, taking a double digit lead into the half before putting together a number of highlight reel clips in the second half to run away with a 77-59 win over the Cougars.

A high scoring affair was expected as the Jayhawk West’s #1 and #2 scoring offenses hit the floor for the top 15 battle between the Cougars and the Saints. Both teams were slow out of the gates as it took Seward 2:09 to get their first basket and it wasn’t until nearly 4 minutes into the game that Barton was on the board. The Saints took an early 7-2 lead on a dunk from Irvin Hollinger but the Cougars came back to knot it up at 8 moments later with 12:05 to go in the half. Seward used a 7-1 run to go on top 15-9 with under 9 minutes remaining in the half after Edson Avila posted up and found the net with a strong move inside and their lead stood at seven, 27-20 on a pair of Trey Starks free throws with 2:32 left in the first half. The Seward lead was eight as the half hit its final minute and with the final possession and time expiring, Corieon Pearson knocked down a 10 footer to give the Saints their largest lead of the game at 33-23 going to the break.
Hollinger scored the first basket out of the break and Seward was quickly on top by an even dozen 35-23. Later on Kaheem Ransom slashed to the basket for a finish and a foul where he completed the three point play to put the guys in green on top by 15, 43-28 with under 15:30 to go in the game. The Seward lead continued to swell and reached 17 on a jumper from Brice Jenkins with under 12 left but Barton stormed back with a 9-0 run to quickly make it a 47-39 game at the media timeout. The Saints lead shrunk to seven with 7:30 to go before a patented Daveon Boardingham two handed slam put them back on top by nine with the score 53-44. After the Cougars got back to within seven, Boardingham came up big yet again, this one in a little less conventional way. The Saints sophomore had the ball at the three point line with time running out on the shot clock and picked the perfect time to knock down the first three of his Seward career as he launched it up from deep and found nothing but the bottom of the net to put the home team on top 61-51. Barton showed no quit as they scored on their next two trips down the court to make it a six point game at 61-55 with 2:58 left to get the closest they had been since early in the first half. It was a seven point game with 2:20 left when the Saints decided to kick things into overdrive. Seward went on a 12-2 run in the next 2 minutes to put the game away and what Seward County Saints story would be complete without mention of a Starks dunk. The sophomore high flyer, saved his best for last in this one as with under a minute to go he plucked a Deverell Biggs lob out of the sky with one hand and smashed it home to put an exclamation mark on Seward’s 77-59 win over the #9 Cougars to take over sole possession of first place in the Jayhawk West.
Seward never trailed in the game and for good reason. They shot an even 50% in the first half before finishing with a flurry and popping on 58% of their second half shots. They held the Cougars, who rank in the top 10 in the nation in scoring, to just 59 points and 38% shooting in the win. Ransom led the way with his biggest game in recent weeks as he broke out for 22 points and 4 rebounds for Seward while Hollinger turned in yet another workman like effort with 16 points and 8 rebounds in the win. Starks hit on 4 of 5 from the floor and 4 of 5 from the free throw line to finish with 12 points in his 13 minutes of work and Boardingham returned to the lineup to score 6 in just under 10 minutes of floor time.
The 12th ranked Saints big win moves them to 19-4 overall on the year and 7-2 in Jayhawk West play where they take over 1st place all to themselves. Their perch at the top will be tested immediately as they go to 2nd place Colby on Wednesday night to take on a 6-2 Trojans team in the Community Building at 8:00. They will return home on Saturday night for Homecoming in the Greenhouse when they host the Pratt Beavers in an 8:00 tip.