Liberal, KS

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Whitlock’s Buzzer Beater Beats Independence

Brock Kappelmann - January 18, 2024 7:19 am

Jay Daubenberger

Liberal, Kansas – After knocking off the Colby Trojans this past Saturday for their first win in two months, the Seward County Saints men’s basketball team stepped up to the challenge once again as they knocked off the Independence Pirates in a close 81-79 win thanks to a game winning three from Amir Whitlock to clinch a Saints’ win.

It was Independence who struck first with three straight triples that put Seward County behind 9-0 before Carson Bennett was able to answer back with a long-range bomb of his own to cut it back to within six. Over the next five minutes the Saints were able to trim the Pirates lead down point by point with Mathias M’Madi driving down the lane for a shifty layup to put SCCC within two at 14-12 and moments later Seward County was able to take their first lead of the night as Blessin Kimble capitalized off an Independence turnover and scored his first points of the night to put the Saints up 17-14. Jaden Martin entered from off the bench and immediately created a spark for SCCC as M’Madi was able to find him on the block for an emphatic two-handed slam to retake a one-point advantage 22-21 and followed it up with two straight buckets to pull in front by three and a fast break score from Dave Olaniyi increased it to six at 29-23 heading into the under four media timeout. The Pirates answered back with an 8-0 run to push back in front before Kimble was able to score through contact and convert the and-one opportunity to creep back to within one entering the halftime break 36-35 against Independence.

The second half was a constant exchange of baskets with neither team being able to pull away from the other. M’Madi gathered up a steal on the defensive end and on his way down the court spotted an open Martin for a powerful rim shaking dunk to put the Saints up 39-38. Eventually Independence found some rhythm and retook the lead and grew it out to seven over the Saints 50-43 before a big time three from Martin out on the wing allowed Seward County to cut it back down to four. Kimble was able to fight through his defender for a layup plus the foul and trimmed the Pirates lead to three after the made free throw. Another long-range triple by Bennett helped knot the score up at 56-56 midway through the second half and a mid-range jumper by Nathan Jones put SCCC back in front 58-56. Both sides refused to budge as the two conference rivals exchanged blow for blow with Martin grabbing the rock for a steal and returned the favor to M’Madi for a fast break score that led the France native to the free throw line where he converted the and-one and locked the score back up at 65-65.

Down to the wire in the final minute, Independence was able to take a small one-point lead with thirteen seconds remaining plus the ball. It looked as though the Saints would have to foul to remain in, but Martin came to the rescue and forced Independence into a turnover to give Seward County the ball with less than two seconds left on the clock. A clutch shot was needed to win the game for the Saints and Whitlock answered the call with a huge three-pointer off the inbound to win the game 81-79 and put Seward County in front of the Pirates in the KJCCC standings.

M’Madi’s 21-point performance led the way for four Saints who reached the double figures mark including Kimble who recorded a monster double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds while Martin added on 12 points to go with a career high of 6 steals with Bennett chipping in 10.

Seward County improves to 5-12 on the 2023-24 season and sit at a 3-8 record in Jayhawk conference action. They will now head back out onto the road and make a two hour trip towards the Beaverdome on Saturday to take on the Pratt Beavers in a 7:30 PM matchup.  The game will air on 107.5.


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