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Coaches Expect Three Peat from Saints

KSCB News - October 31, 2012 1:28 pm

Following a season in which they captured the first back
to back Jayhawk West Conference Championships in the illustrious history
of the program, the Seward County Saints have been picked by the
league’s coaches as the top team once again as announced Monday at the
annual KJCCC Basketball Media Day.
Seward was the trendy pick as the top team amongst the
coaches after a season in which they went 31-7 and won the Region VI
Championship before reaching the NJCAA National Tournament Final Four
where they finished 3rd. The Saints return a trio of players from last
year’s team including point guard Kaheem Ransom, big man Edson Avila,
and key reserve Briston White. Ransom, who was left off the
All-Conference team a year ago because of a loaded 2012 backcourt class,
returns as one of the top players in the conference this season. As a
freshman, the lefty averaged 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per ballgame
and poured in 25 points and had 12 rebounds for the Saints in the Region
VI Championship a season ago. The 6’10 Avila, played in all 38,
starting 25 games for Seward in 2011-2012. He averaged 6.1 points and
5.4 rebounds per game for Seward as a rookie and has already found his
way onto the radar of major Division I powers recruiting list early in
his sophomore season. White could be one of many x-factors for Seward
this season. Playing just over 10 minutes per game last season, he is
expected to have a larger role in this year’s system and could surprise
many teams with his versatility and athleticism.
Saints Head Coach Bryan Zollinger will have a stable of
options to choose from this season when deciding which five players will
be on the court as Seward has 18 players on their roster for preseason
camp. The group of 14 newcomers will be led by transfers Leslee Smith
and Jabari Peters, both of whom saw significant time at the Division I
level as freshman last season. Three other second year players also
join the bunch in Eric Adams who played at Bethany College last season,
Thaddeus Smith who was a redshirt for Seward in 2011-2012, and the high
flying Hendrix Emu who comes to the Saints after redshirting at Trinity
Valley a season ago. The Saints true freshman class includes three of
out of state guards in Jerry Cobb, Malcolm Hill-Bey, and Rockell
Lee-Vaughn, as well as a trio of in-staters including Josh Sweet from
Topeka, Kenlee West from Liberal, and Patrick Parker from Wichita. An
impressive bunch of freshman forwards for the Saints includes 6’10 Brian
Bridgeforth, 6’6 Quentin Purtue, as well as 6’5 local product Devondre
In the polls the Saints were followed by the 2011-2012
runner-up Hutchinson who brings back four players from a 25 win team
from a season ago, including 6’9 Alex Davis, an inside-out threat from
Houston, Texas and a pair of impact guards in Rozell Nunn and AJ
Spencer. Barton was the coaches choice as the #3 team in the league and
for no other reason than point guard Algie Key. Key is the top
returning scorer to the Jayhawk West this season and will be a focal
point of every opposing teams defensive strategy. Cloud County checks
in at #4 on the list after nearly ending the Saints run in the Region
Tournament a year ago, but the T-Birds will have to move on this season
without a pair of standout guards in Richard Carter and Devon Branch
that finished 1-2 in the league’s scoring race last season. A team who
struggled mightily in the second half of the 2011-2012 season, Dodge
City was picked 5th by the coaches and will be under the direction of
first year Head Coach Kyle Campbell this season. Another team who
started hot but plummeted down the standings at the end of last season
with six straight losses to close the year, Garden City, checks in at #6
in the coaches poll. The Busters will also be under new direction this
season as former Division I Head Coach Rand Chappell takes over a team
that returns only Liberal’s Kowan Russell who averaged less than 1 point
per game last season. Following a very disappointing 2011-2012 season,
Butler comes in at #7 in the poll after being the only team left out of
the Region VI Playoffs last year. Butler returns three good instate
players including their second leading scorer Sean Osler. Pratt who was
picked #8 brings back 12 points and 8 rebounds per game from Aaron Abram
and hopes to have one of the top newcomers in 2012-2013 in 6’11 Lucas
Stivrins from Scottsdale, Arizona. Colby rounds out the pack at #9
after a season in which a promising start to the season turned to
disaster as they lost eight of their final nine games to finish in 6th
place in the league. New Head Coach Rusty Grafel will have his hands
full with just two returners this season, but will have plenty to choose
from as the Trojans have a roster of 20 players to start camp.
On the East side of the conference, heavyweights
Coffeyville, Cowley, and Independence were expectedly picked 1-2-3 with
Neosho County, Labette, Johnson County, and Kansas City Kansas in the
middle of the pack and Highland, Allen County, and Fort Scott rounding
out the Saints opposite side.
The Saints kickoff
their 2012-2013 campaign on Friday, November 2nd at home in the Pepsi
Classic when they take on Fort Carson at 8:00.


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