Agard faces tough challenge of watching instead of playing PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 00:00

Daily Leader photo/Earl Watt
Latiq Agard sits with Seward County students behind the Saints bench  
Saturday night. Seward’s leading scorer has been sidelined with an  
ankle injury and has had to watch his team struggle during his absence.


By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
Missing a key player can be tough on any team.
But it just might be tougher on the athlete who is forced to the  
sideline.
The Seward County Saints have had to play the past three games  
without the services of the team’s leading scorer and leader Latiq  
Agard.
He will be out of the line-up again Wednesday when the Saints host  
Pratt in an effort to even up the conference record at 2-2.
Prior to Agard’s injury, the Saints were riding a wave of success,  
and Agard was the leading scorer during a 13-0 start to the season.
Agard’s last complete game was played right before the holiday break  
— a loss to No. 18 College of Southern Idaho at the Greenhouse. It  
was a competitive game with the Saints falling by five, 84-79.
But Agard strained his ankle, and although he attempted to play the  
conference opener on the road against Hutchinson, he couldn’t  
complete the game.
Seward lost 76-69.
The Saints then hosted Barton County, another critical early-
conference match-up without Agard.
But the Saints lost in overtime.
Seward rebounded Saturday with a 96-80 win over Colby with its star  
athlete relegated to sitting in the student section behind the   
Saints bench.
“This might be the toughest thing I’ve ever been through,” Agard said.
Agard might not be on the floor, but he has done what he can to  
support his teammates during a game.
“Right now I cheer them on to keep competing,” he said. “We have a  
lot of talent, so I know we can compete.”
Seward coach Bryan Zollinger has been working around the hole left by  
Agard, and the team has come together to make up for the missing  
offensive and defensive presence.
But Agard’s natural leadership on the floor is missing as well, and  
that can be a more difficult role to fill.
“My teammates look up to me, and they listen to what I have to say,”  
Agard said. “I tell them where we can score, where we can step it up  
on defense, where we can be a better team to win games.”
Both Agard and Antonio Smith have filled the role of on-court  
general, and while Agard has been in rehab for his ankle, other  
Saints are stepping up to develop the necessary confidence to hold  
down the fort until Agard returns, or to be prepared should any other  
injury or foul trouble sideline a Saint.
“The same expectation is there for everyone,” Zollinger said. “From  
the first to the 15th, whoever goes in has to perform at a high level.”
To perform at that level requires self-confidence, something Agard  
has been trying to build in his teammates.
“I try to tell everybody they are good enough to fill the roles and  
score my points,” he said. “We tell each other to get up. Coach Z  
tells us it’s all about confidence.”
Agard may return as early as next week, but until then, Seward will  
have to continue to battle without their general on the court, and  
while the road was difficult at first, Seward has adjusted to life  
without Agard.
His return, then, should make the team that much more dangerous in  
the race for the Jayhawk West title.
 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press.

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