By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
Seward had a chance to take sole possession of first place Wednesday with a win at Barton County, but instead the Saints fell back into a three-way tie at the top of the Jayhawk West with a 72-66 loss to the Cougars.
Seward upset the No. 12 Hutchinson Blue Dragons in the Greenhouse Saturday and after the game Bryan Zollinger cautioned about putting too much into the victory.
“It won’t mean much if we lose the rest,” he said.
His words were prophetic.
The momentum of handing Hutchinson its first conference defeat disappeared late at Barton.
Seward appeared to be poised to take control against the Cougars early. The Saints jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first three-and-a-half minutes.
Seward maintained the lead until Travell Robinson hit a three-pointer with 10:15 to play in the first half to give the Cougars a 14-13 lead.
Tyreke Sharp finally ended a 13-0 run by Barton with a jump shot, but Barton still had a 20-15 lead.
The Saints fell behind by 11 with 4:33 to play in the half when Darrlyn Johnson hit a jump shot to put Barton ahead 28-17.
With 1:48 to play in the half, Barton had doubled up the Saints, 35-17.
With 22 seconds remaining in the half, Corley Tyler hit a lay-up to give the Cougars a 39-19 lead, and Niem Stevenson was able to make two free throws to cut the lead to 39-21 at half.
Malcolm Hill-Bey hit a three-pointer with 14:56 to play to cut the lead to 10, and with 10:29 to play, a three-pointer by Sharp cut Barton’s lead to six, 52-46.
Stevenson made two free throws with 7:43 to play to cut the Barton lead to two, 57-55, and with 6:06 to play hit a three-pointer to give the Saints a 60-59 lead.
Barton regained the lead until Stevenson hit a pair of free throws with 3:33 to play for a 64-63 Seward lead, but Barton climbed ahead, and Seward only made two free throws the rest of the game and fell 72-66.
Stevenson scored 25 points to lead the Saints. Hill-Bey came off the bench to score 12, and Secan Johnson added 11.
Seward hosts Dodge Saturday.