Following a 69-63 loss to Mineral Area to close out the 2012 portion of their non-conference schedule, the Seward County Saints rang in the New Year on Tuesday with a bang, upsetting previously 11-1 and 23rd ranked Lamar State-Port Arthur 70-62 in the Lone Star State to get their 2013 off to a good start.

After the nearly 800 mile bus trip to Port Arthur, the Saints had trouble finding the basket in their first game of the Lamar State New Year’s Classic against a good Mineral Area squad. Seward fell behind early in the contest and played catch up the rest of the way. The Saints managed just 9 first half field goals against the Cardinals and struggled mightily from the free throw line where they were just 8 for 17. On the other side, Mineral Area had no problems putting the ball in the basket, knocking down 47% of their first half shots and 7 of 14 from three point land to take a 37-28 lead at the break over the Saints.
Looking for the come from behind win, the Saints offense went ice cold as the final 20 minutes kicked off. While they were able to drive and get to the free throw line with ease, the Seward shooters seemed to be out of sorts with the change of direction. The Saints once again failed to crack double digits in field goals in the half, this time they could find the hoop on just six shots from the field and their outside shooting was nearly non-existent as the guys in green combined to go just 1 for 13 from deep in the second half. While the 22 made free throws in the period gave them a chance, in the end all of the misses caught up to them as Seward fell to the Cardinals 69-63.
The Saints finished the game shooting just 31% from the field, their second lowest output on the season, and ended the night 3 for 18 from downtown, good for 17%. Seward reached the free throw line 49 times on the night, setting a new school record for foul shots taken in a single game. Edson Avila led the Saints with 19 points while fellow big man Brian Bridgeforth came off the bench for 8 points and 8 rebounds for the guys in green. Seward played just seven players in the game, their three guards combined to go 6 for 29 from the field and 2 for 16 from the three point line in the loss.
Trying to move forward past their loss on day one, the Saints took the court against an even better opponent on the first day of 2013 Tuesday. Seward squared off against the 23rd ranked and host team Lamar State-Port Arthur in their last non-conference game of the 2012-2013 season. The Saints got off to a much better start on the offensive start against the Seahawks, turning defensive stops into points on the other end, jumping out to a 31-17 midway through the first. They played even with Lamar State through the last part of the period and into the half the teams went with Seward on top 40-26. The Saints shot 45% in the first half while holding a potent Lamar State-Port Arthur team to just 8 field half field goals and 33% shooting.
In the second half the Saints opened up strong again, building their lead to as many as 17 midway through and looked like they were in complete control of the game. However, down the stretch the Seahawks got into their flow while the Saints shooting woes of the day before came back to get them again. Lamar State-Port Arthur closed the Saints gap to 10 and then 4 before tying the game at 62 with 2:40 remaining. Following a timeout, the Saints got things figured out on both ends of the floor, shutting the door on Lamar State-Port Arthur’s offensive attack while grinding out buckets on their end of the floor. Seward finished the game outscoring the Seahawks 8-0 and came away with a 70-62 upset win to finish their trip.
Jabari Peters led the Saints to the win with a career high 27 points to go along with his career high 9 rebounds while Jerry Cobb was the only other Saint to get into double figures in the win as he finished with 10. Leslee Smith led the Saints inside with a career high 13 rebounds in the victory. Seward shot 41% from the field in the win and held the Seahawks to just 37% shooting in the game.
Seward finishes the non-conference 9-5, the first time that they have lost five games before league play since the 2003-2004 season in which they finished 11-19. Now things ramp up for the guys in green as they turn their attention towards defending their Jayhawk West Conference crown from a season ago. First up for the Saints will be a stiff test as they take on 13-1 and 9th ranked Barton Saturday at home in the Greenhouse at 8:00. Free tickets are available courtesy of our buyout sponsor Sunflower Bank at their Liberal location or at McDonald’s and Hutch’s.