Superman met his Kryptonite Wednesday night at Hartman Arena in the Region VI Tournament Finals in Park City as the 31-1 and 4th ranked Seward County Lady Saints fell 65-44 to #2 Hutchinson in the title bout, forcing them to await an almost sure decision by the NJCAA at-large committee to decide their NJCAA National Tournament fate.
Seward opened the game strong in the matchup between two teams with a combined 61-0 record against anyone other than each other. The Lady Saints scored on two of their first three possessions of the game, jumping out to a 5-2 lead on the Blue Dragons. But Seward wouldn’t find another field goal for the next seven plus minutes, watching their lead go by the wayside and Hutchinson take an 11-6 lead of the own. The Lady Saints found some offense in one of the last places they would look as Manuela Fungate came off the bench and scored five straight to close the quarter, cutting the Hutch lead to just 13-11 after one.
Hutchinson pushed their lead to 19-13 early in the second before a 10-0 Seward County run capped by threes from Mollie Mounsey and Neidy Ocuane flipped the script and gave the Lady Saints a 23-19 lead. Just when it looked like the Lady Saints were gaining control before the break, it was Hutchinson’s turn for a run as the Blue Dragons scored the final eight points of the period to storm into the locker rooms up 27-23.
Seward shot under 30% in the half, going 3-12 from distance while committing seven first half turnovers. Fungate and Mounsey shared the first half scoring lead with seven while the Lady Saints second leading scorer in Joanna Grymek was held surprisingly scoreless through the first 20 minutes.
The Lady Saints couldn’t have scripted a better start to the second half as they put up seven straight points to begin the third to take a 30-27 lead just two minutes in. But once again, a long scoring drought hurt the Lady Saints as they went nearly five minutes without a single point through the middle portion of the quarter, seeing their lead disappear and the Dragons build up a 37-30 cushion of their own. Seward finally regrouped and played the Dragons even to finish the quarter, but after 30 minutes of action, it was Hutchinson by eight, 46-38.
Hutchinson caught fire as the four quarter kicked off and the Lady Saints couldn’t be colder. The Dragons hit each of their first four three pointers of the quarter, ballooning their lead to 62-38 as Seward failed to score for the first 5:22 of the period. Seward wouldn’t score another point until the 1:06 mark and only finished the quarter with two field goals as Hutchinson finished them off 65-44 for their fifth Region VI Championship in six seasons.
Seward shot just 33% in the game, marking their third worst shooting effort of the season. The Lady Saints went 5 for 20 from the three point line and allowed the Dragons to grab 13 offensive rebounds in the defeat. Mounsey was held to a season low 11 points in the loss and was the only Lady Saint in double figures.
The Lady Saints lose just their second game of the season, both to Hutchinson to fall to 31-2 on the year while the Dragons improve to 33-1 with their 31st straight victory since an early November loss to Seward.
Hutchinson earns an automatic bid to the NJCAA National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas March 20-25 while Seward will have to play the waiting game until Sunday to get their official invite to the tournament via an almost guaranteed at-large bid.
#4 SEWARD COUNTY/#2 HUTCHINSON BOX SCORE <http://www.sewardsaints.com/sports/wbkb/2016-17/boxscores/20170308_zrhh.xml?view=boxscore>