CHANUTE, Kan. – It was thrilling night in Panther Gymnasium as the Seward County Saints basketball team needed an extra five minutes to take home a win against the Neosho Panthers, 87-82. The win marked the first overtime victory for the Saints in two years.
Seward (9-4, 5-4) jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but the momentum quickly turned in the Panthers favor, going on an 8-1 run to take a 10-6 lead with 17:12 to play. Neosho extended their lead to six points before the Saints answered with a 7-0 run to retake the lead after Anthony Thomas converted on his and-one attempt at the 12:00 minute mark.
Neither team could gain an advantage over the next five minutes, but with Neosho winning 22-20, Thomas once again helped the Saints retake the lead, this time with a step-back three. The Panthers came back to tie the game at 30 with 1:20 left in the half before Mohamed Selmi hit a contested layup to start a 7-0 run to end the half for the Saints, as Seward went into halftime with a 37-30 lead.
The teams were evenly matched at the half, with Seward hitting 13 of their 25 attempts (52.0%), while going 40 percent from behind the arc and Neosho hitting 40.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from deep.
The game remained even through the first four minutes of the second half, but a Branden Fenner four-point play switched the momentum in favor of the Panthers, as they tied the game at 46 with a mid-range jump shot on their next possession. Hegel Augustin and Isiah Small helped keep the Saints in from, hitting contested layups on back-to-back possessions as the Saints went on a 10-2 run over the next five minutes.
The Panthers answered with a run of their own, however, cutting the Seward lead to three with a 10-3 run. Augustin briefly stopped the run before the Panthers went on another, this time take the lead 64-62 with just under seven minutes to play.
Down 70-67 with 3:18 to play, Ke'Sean Davis drilled a three-pointed to tie the game, only for the Panthers to convert on an and-one attempt on the other end. Following a couple empty possessions by both teams, Jamel Horton made layups on back-to-back possessions to give the Saints a 74-73 lead with 1:10 to play. The Saints couldn't extend their lead any further, and Neosho made one of two free throws from the line with 9 seconds left to tie it at 74 and send the game into overtime.
The first minute of overtime did not go as planned for the Saints, as the Panthers took a 79-74 lead with a 5-0 run. The Saints responded with some of their best play of the season, starting with an Augustin three-pointer. Two possessions later, Davis hit another clutch three, this time giving the Saints a one-point advantage, 80-79.
The Saints continued to pour it on, scoring five more points before Neosho hit a three-pointer to bring the game to back within three points with 36 seconds left. The Panthers began to foul the Saints, but Seward could only convert two of their final six free throw attempts. Augustin's final free throw was enough to give the Saints a five-point lead with 17 seconds left, as the Seward came away with the victory, 87-82.
Seward will have a four-week break in between games, having to wait until Jan. 3 when they host Independence in the Greenhouse to begin the second half of play in 2018.