By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
After allowing the Colorado Kings to make 73 percent of their shots in a 102-90 loss, Seward coach Bryan Zollinger could only think of one way to have kept that percentage lower.
“I don’t know if they could have shot 73 percent if we were off the court,” he said following the first loss of the season at home.
The lack of defensive pressure from the Saints, and the home run ball that the Kings threw time and time again for uncontested lay-ups continued to frustrate Zollinger at his team’s effort.
“I am as embarrassed as I’ve ever been at a performance that one of my teams have given,” he said.
The Kings are made up one former Div. 1 and four-year players as well as ex professionals. Still, Seward has played them before, successfully. But Friday night in front of a sparse crowd at the Green House, the Saints could not keep the Kings from scoring.
“We didn’t pressure the ball early enough,” Zollinger said. “We tell them over and over on the press to make them catch in front. They threw it over the top time and time again. Our guys acted surprised about it.”
After trailing most of the second half, Seward took a 79-78 lead with seven minutes to play when Hayden Harris hit a shot in the lane.
The Kings responded with a 6-0 run to regain the lead, and Seward was not able to recover.
“We got a few stops, created a couple of turnovers and got some transition baskets,” Zollinger said. “That helped, but then we gave it right back.”
Statistically, Seward did not have a bad night.
The Saints shot 49 percent including a 53 percent second half. The Saints outrebounded the Kings and forced Colorado into 24 turnovers while committing 23 of their own.
But the shotting prowess of the Kings was too much.
Colorado only missed five of 24 shots in the second half for 79 percent. They also made 19 of 25 free throw attempts in the second half and 31 of their 102 points came from the charity strip in the game.
Colorado’s Darius Pope caused the most damage, scoring 34 points including two threes. Many of those came as lay-ups on full-court passes.
Seward had a five-point lead with 16:04 to play in the first half and extended out to a 20-13 lead after back-to-back buckets from Corieon Pearson.
But the Kings went on a tear on their way to half and took a 44-42 lead at half.
Colorado continued to shoot the lights out of the Green house and moved out to a 63-55 lead with 14 minutes to play.
Seward rallied with a 10-5 run to make it a one-point game with 11 minutes to play. Over the next two minutes, Colorado regained a seven-point lead, but Seward charged back a second time on an 8-0 run to take a 77-76 lead after a technical was called on Colorado’s Anthony Byrd, which was also his fifth.
The teams battled back and forth until the final four minutes when an 8-2 run by the Kings put Seward’s backs against the wall with 1:17 to play. The Saints could not respond again and fell 102-90.
Seward (7-2) had less than 24 hours to turn around and play McCook, Neb.
As to what the team would do differently remained a mystery.
“I wish I knew,” Zollinger said. “You just try to rally the troops, circle the wagons and do the best we can. If there was a magic pill, I’d take it.”
Kaheem Ransom led the Saints with 17 points. Deverell Biggs scored 15, Irvin Hollinger had 12, and Daveon Boardingham scored 10.