Stevenson’s 37 Not Enough at Hutchinson
KSCB News - January 21, 2016 6:16 am
Seward County’s Niem Stevenson came ready to play in the Saints big Jayhawk Conference matchup Wednesday night at Hutchinson, scoring a career high 37 points while ripping down 10 rebounds, but Seward’s defense, or lack thereof late in the game spoiled the show, as Seward watched the Blue Dragons score 51 second half points in a 96-91 Hutchinson victory.
The Saints couldn’t have started any hotter Wednesday night, getting three straight three pointers on their first three possessions of the game to jump out to a lightning quick 9-0 lead on Hutchinson after just 1:39 of action. Seward stayed hot, getting everyone into the mix as Delano Jones and Delwin Young connected from downtown later on to push the Saints lead to 21-9. The Saints remained on top by double digits as Matthew Lewiscollected a loose ball and scored in the paint to make it 25-15 with 11:14 to go in the half. That’s when Hutchinson got the spark they needed and quickly sliced the Saints lead down to just one after a 9-0 run in the next 3:17. It didn’t take long until the Saints hot start became an afterthought as Hutchinson took their first lead of the game at 30-29 with 5:35 left in the half. With time winding down in the half, the Saints went to their All-American Niem Stevenson who picked up an old fashioned three point play and then a three pointer from the outside to tie the score at 45 as the teams headed to the break.
Despite the blazing hot start, the Saints were outshot 53% to 49% in the first half by the Dragons. Stevenson led all scorers with 20 first half points on 8 of 11 shooting while Charles Beauregard pitched in 11 for Seward in the first 20 minutes.
Seward and Hutch traded the first three buckets of the second half and the Saints found themselves up one as Jones found a back cutting Beauregard for a deuce to make it 49-48 with 18:50 left in the game. Over the next 4:56 the Dragons, a team not overly known for their defense would hold the Saints without a single point while going on a 15-0 run to take control of the game with a 63-49 lead. Seward tried to fight back, getting three straight three pointers from Jones and then seven points in a 1:06 stretch by Stevenson, but their defense couldn’t get enough stops to make it count. Seward remained down by eight despite the spectacular individual plays on the offensive end and watched as their deficit again grew to double digits at 12 with under 8:00 to go as Hutch took an 81-69 lead. A 9-2 Seward run, capped by a guarded three from Mitchell Packard got the Saints back into the game, down just five with 4:14 to go, but another quick Blue Dragon run had it back to an 11 point game at 91-80 with just 3:25 remaining. With the odds against them, the Saints continued to fight. Another three from Stevenson cut it back to a single digit game and moments later Jones’ fourth three of the night made it a five point game at 93-88 with under a minute to go. Packard’s second three in crunch time made it a one possession game with 25 seconds remaining, but the Saints wouldn’t score again and a pair of Dragon free throws iced the game away as Hutchinson walked away with a 96-91 victory.
Hutchinson shot exactly the same as they did in the first half, 17 for 32 to finish the game at 53% shooting from the field while the Saints cooled down considerably after their unconscious start to finish the night at 44%. The big difference makers came in the paint where Hutchinson outscored the Saints 27-14 on second chance points and just outside the paint where the Dragons cashed in on a +21 differential in free throws shot in the game.
Stevenson finished a monster night with a career high 37 points and 10 rebounds as coaches from Texas A&M and Oregon among others invaded the Sports Arena to scout his talents for the next level. Beauregard and Jones each had 17 in the losing effort for the Saints while Packard had 10.
Seward falls to 15-5 overall and 5-4 in Jayhawk Conference action while #16 Hutchinson improves to 18-3 on the season and 7-3 in league play.
Things won’t get any easier for Seward in their next outing as they travel to Great Bend Saturday to take on a Barton team that until a recent cold stretch, led the Jayhawk Conference standings for an extended period of time. The Saints and Cougars will tip things off at 3:30 in matinee action in the Kirkman Center.