The 13th ranked Seward County Saints flexed their muscles Wednesday night as they hosted Jayhawk West rival Dodge City. After their recent home struggles, Seward was going to have none of that in this one as they bolted out to a double digit halftime lead before turning on the afterburners to run away with a 23 point win to remain the top team in the conference with just three games to go.

After a week off and nothing but defensive work at practice, Seward looked like a rejuvenated team on the offensive end of the floor early on in this one as they scored on their first five possessions to take an 8-3 lead. The Saints lead grew to 10-3 before a 6-0 Dodge City run made it a one point game 10-9 with 14:02 to go in the half. Then Seward turned the defensive pressure dial up a notch. The Saints forced Dodge City into turnovers on four straight trips down the floor and scored on their four chances to once again give themselves breathing room as they opened up a 19-10 lead after a Kaheem Ransom to Corieon Pearson dish to finish a break. After a pair of Conquistador free throws, Deverell Biggs hit on one of two first half three pointers to give the Saints their first double digit lead of the half at 22-12 with 9:11 to go in the period. Dodge City fought back to make it a four point game 24-20 but it seemed as if every time the Saints were put in a pressure situation on Wednesday, they locked it in, and this time was no different as they turned to their sophomore post players this time and got seven straight points from Irvin Hollinger and Daveon Boardingham to stretch their lead to 31-20 with 3:18 to go in the half. It was a 10 point game as the clock wound down in the half when Ransom drove to the basket, pulled up from 12 feet and banked home a jumper and was fouled where he completed the three point play to give the Saints the momentum and their biggest lead of the game 38-25 into the half. Seward shot an efficient 48% in the first half and forced 17 Dodge City turnovers to take the 13 point lead after 20 minutes of action.
The Saints and Conqs went back and forth early in the second half and it remained a 13 point game in favor of Seward three minutes in. Then it was Seward who got things flowing and this time it was their guard in Biggs and Ransom who did so, outscoring Dodge 8-2 in a three minute span to push the Saints lead all the way up to 19 at 52-33. With the game in hand, the Conqs never put up much more of a fight. It was still a 19 point game with 8 minutes to go when Edson Avila grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to put Seward up 21. With a small crowd and little suspense on who was going to get the w, the Saints and Conqs played the final eight minutes out pretty evenly before Dodge got a hoop at the buzzer to make it 79-56 in favor of Seward to finish things.
Seward shot 48% from the field in the game while Dodge shot 42% but turned the ball over 30 times due to the relentless Saints pressure on defense. Biggs led the way for the Saints, scoring 23 points and moved into 5th place in the country in steals with 7 more to bring his 2011-2012 total to 91. Ransom scored 13 and had 4 assists while Hollinger and Avila were good inside, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively while each pulled down 6 rebounds.
The Saints move to 22-5 overall on the season and remain the Jayhawk West frontrunners with a 10-3 record in conference play. The win coupled with a Colby loss to Hutchinson in the Community Building means that Seward has now clinched a first round home playoff game in the upcoming Region VI Tournament starting March 7th. The Saints though, have higher aspirations than that and will head into their final three games of the conference season with a one game lead on late charging Hutchinson who has won eight straight. Seward will go to Garden City on Saturday to take on a struggling but extremely dangerous Buster team who defeated them in the Greenhouse 81-74 one month ago. The Saints and Busters will tip early, at 7:30 Saturday night in the Perryman Center in Garden City.