Saints Win Heated Game at Barton

KSCB News - January 24, 2016 9:42 am

History has shown that while they might not be arch enemies, get together’s on the basketball floor have been quite lively between the Seward County Saints and Barton Cougars. Saturday afternoon was no exception as tempers flared throughout the game, resulting in four technicals and multiple warnings to both sides. Seward built a 17 point first half lead before Barton roared back, taking a late lead of their own, when the Saints put the ball in the hands of Niem Stevenson who scored six straight in the final three minutes to push Seward to a 79-77 key Jayhawk Conference win over the Cougars.

In an almost incredible case of dejavu, the Saints got out to a nearly identical start Saturday afternoon at Barton as they did Wednesday night at Hutchinson. Seward began the game with three straight three point attempts and connected on all of them, taking a 9-0 lead right out of the gates, stretching that to 11-1 before Barton scored their first field goal of the game. The Saints weren’t done there as they pushed their lead to 18-4 just 3:32 in as James Byrd finished in the lane and found themselves in front 31-16 at the first half media timeout. At the first technical stoppage, the Saints were shooting 80% from the field while Barton wasn’t too shabby themselves, but well behind Seward at 40%. Seward extended their lead to 17 moments later, but that is when they hit a lull, watching the Cougars find some offensive fluidity while hitting their first bump in the road on that side of the floor. Barton crept their way back into the contest by getting multiple opportunities on seemingly every possession, slicing the Seward lead to just six before a late Saints hoop before the half made it a 49-41 game at the break.

Seward shot 63% in the period and connected on 6 of 13 attempts from the three point line, good for 46%. James Byrd had a game high 13 points at the break while Niem Stevenson and Mitchell Packard each had 10 for the guys in green.

As Barton dropped into a zone in the second half, the Saints had trouble finding any room to get anything going on the offensive end . After a near 50 point first half, the Saints struggled to just three points in the first five minutes of the second half, watching their lead all but evaporate as Barton crawled to within just two at 52-50. As Barton tied the game, the intensity in the Kirkman Center rose to a fevered pitch. That spilled over onto the floor where in a two minute stretch on the clock, both teams were whistled for two technicals and were awarded four free throws due to the violations. After watching their once 17 point lead blow away in the wind, Seward regrouped after the flareup, taking a 64-58 lead at the midway point of the second half. But Barton wouldn’t go away. The Cougars again worked their way back into striking distance and evened the score once more with an emphatic one handed slam over Saints defense to knot the score at 70 with 4:07 remaining. With 3:40 to go, the Cougars took their first lead of the game as ironically former Saint Derek Dorn swished home a three against his former squad, putting Barton on top 73-70. That’s when the Saints went to All-American Niem Stevenson who drove strongly to the hoop on Seward’s next possession, scoring and drawing a foul, followed by a long bomb by Stevenson on the next possession for three more to put the Saints back in front 75-73 with 2:40 to go. The Saints then stepped up on the defensive end, getting a pair of stops and Stevenson buried a pair of free throws to cushion their lead to 77-73. That was all she wrote for the Cougars as Barton missed a late three that would have gotten them back into it and the Saints salted the game away at the line as they picked up a 79-77 victory. Following the game, Barton decided not to shake hands with the Saints players, but Cougar Coach Craig Fletchall decided to stir the pot by following the Saints to their locker room and after cooler heads prevailed, the Saints walked away from Great Bend with a big road win.

The Saints shot an even 50% in the game from the field and were on target from three point land, shooting 46% on 11 three point makes. Barton shot 42% from the field, but remained close because of a staggering 46-24 advantage on the glass including 20 offensive rebounds. Stevenson scored a game high 23 in the win while Byrd, spelling normal starting point guard Marcus Mathieu, pitched in 19 on 7 of 9 shooting from the field.

Seward earns the rare road win over the Cougars, the first time in the past three season that the road team has won in the series, to improve to 16-5 overall and 6-4 in conference play. Barton’s recent slide continues as they lose for the fourth time in their past five games, falling to 14-7 overall and drop back to a tie with the Saints in the conference standings at 6-4 after a 5-0 start.

Next up for Seward is a two game home stand next week against a pair of old Southwest Kansas rivals. Wednesday the Garden City Broncbusters come to town while Saturday Dodge City will travel to the Greenhouse for an 8:00 start. Free tickets for Wednesday’s 8:00 tip with the Busters are available courtesy of our buyout sponsor Bank of Beaver City at their Liberal location.



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