In a loaded pack of talented squads, the Seward County Lady Saints have been chosen as the favorites in the Jayhawk West Conference by the league’s coaches as announced at conference media day Monday. Seward, who finished 23-8 overall last season and 11-5 in Jayhawk West Conference action return two of the top players in the league this season in sophomores Ricquia Jones and Anete Kirsteine, as well as boasting one of the top in state returnees in Kelsey Blair.

Jones and Kirsteine both started all 31 games for the Lady Saints as freshmen a season ago, Jones averaging 8.0 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.1 steals per game and Kirsteine earning All-Conference accolades after averaging 11.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest while shooting a blistering 46% from three point land on the year. Blair played in 30 of 31 games for Seward in her rookie season, turning herself into one of the top reserves in the league, reaching double figures on eight occasions off the Lady Saints bench while averaging 6.1 points per game. The trio is joined by a versatile group of newcomers for the 2012-2013 season which should allow Lady Saints Head Coach Toby Wynn some flexibility this year. Down low the Lady Saints will have the services of 6’6 Marta Oledzka, a transfer from New Mexico Junior College and a pair of in state signees in Topeka’s Shanise Brooks and Plains’ Sheree Ryan. Wynn has a plethora of players that will be able to handle the ball in the backcourt for the Lady Saints including local products Avery Burns, Bridget Crandall, and Justice Norah, as well as Brazilian freshman Fabiana Monte to go along with Jones and Blair. Freshmen Jaleasa Jones and Madison McClain both can play multiple positions for Seward, giving Wynn different lineup possibilities while Janel Tammen will see time at the small forward spot.
Following the Lady Saints who were picked 1st in the poll was Garden City who will rely on seven transfers this season to join 2012 Freshman of the Year Tamara Jones. The 3rd team in the poll incredibly was Hutchinson who went 36-1 a year ago and finished as the NJCAA National Tournament runners-up after an undefeated run through the Jayhawk West and then the Region VI Tournament. Butler, who has been on the rise in the league the past two seasons was picked #4 thanks to a solid recruiting class, but has been beat up in the preseason, already losing multiple players for the 2012-2013 season with injuries. Cloud County finds themselves picked in an unusual spot at #5 after a number of years at the top of the Jayhawk West standings, but don’t count out 500 game winner Brett Erkenbrack and the Lady T-Birds that return two starters from last year’s 22-10 squad. Barton checks in at #6 and will have to rely on a guard heavy roster to compete at the top of the league this season. Following a 7th place finish last season, Pratt was once again picked to finish there this season despite six sophomores returning for the Lady Beavers. Despite an 0-16 conference mark in 2011-2012, Dodge City was a vastly improved team and is expected to take another step up this season as they were picked 8th despite bringing back just one player from last year. Colby was picked at the bottom of the league, in at #9, and will have to improve upon the worst defense in the entire region that allowed nearly 67 points per game a year ago if they are to climb into the Jayhawk West race.
Fans will get their first chance to see the 2012-2013 Lady Saints in action on October 23rd at Basketball Preview Night and will get to see Seward in game action for the first time when they open the season on Friday, November 2nd in the Greenhouse against Oklahoma Baptist in the Pepsi Classic.