Jay Daubenberger

Thursday marked day one of the Gila Monster Shootout in Thatcher, Arizona where the Seward County Saints men’s basketball team competed against nationally ranked #17 Snow where the Badgers showed why they are ranked as a top 20 team in the country by blowing out Seward County 97-63.

After losing their home opener the previous week, the Saints went out on the road to Arizona for a three-day tournament where in day one Seward County was put head-to-head with #17 Snow. For the first ten minutes it was a competitive exchange of baskets and hard-fought defense. Mervin Hope was able to use his length and athleticism to his advantage on an offensive rebound and found an open Jaden Martin for a mid-range jumper to stay within two against the Badgers 9-7. De ja vu struck a few minutes later as another offensive rebound for the Saints led to Martin cashing in from the exact same spot to close the gap for a second time 18-16 with Snow managing to hold a firm grasp onto their lead. From their however the Badgers were able to knock down shots that the Saints could not as they grew their lead all the way out to 41-23 heading into halftime.

That eighteen-point deficit Seward County quickly grew out to twenty-seven as Snow went on a 16-7 run to open the second half of action and the Saints would never recover from there. Nathan Jones was able bank in a three from the top of the arc while a steal from Dave Olaniyi led to a fast break dunk by Martin to put the score at 85-50. The final moments of glory for Seward County came from their sophomore leader in Blessin Kimble who put his defender in the spin cycle and slammed in a poster dunk while drawing the and-one opportunity with two minutes left before Snow finished the Saints off 97-63.

Seward County now falls to an 0-2 start on the 2023-2024 season and will look to bounce back tomorrow afternoon when they face the host team in Eastern Arizona with a 6:30 PM tip-off.