By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
Trying to find a winning combination became more difficult for Seward coach Brian Zollinger in the final game of the holiday classic in Scottsbluff, Neb.
Seward had to play without starters Niem Stevenson and Kevin Smith due to injuries, and the Saints dropped their sixth game of the season, 90-79, to Western Nebraska.
The Cougars shot on fire, and the Seward defense had no answer. Western nebraska shot 56 percent in the first half while the Saints only hit 37 percent of their attempts, but Seward only trailed by six at half.
The second half was a mirror of the first.
Seward continued to hit 38 percent of their shots while the Cougars connected on 50 percent, and the Saints were outscored by five in the final 20 minutes.
Zollinger played 12 different Saints, but it appeared to make little difference which group was on the floor.
Malcolm Hill-Bey led the Saints with 18 points. Secan Johnson scored 16, Frank Johnson came off the bench to score 13, and Verdell Mays took advantage of his 15 minutes of playing time to score 10.
Starters Quentin Purtue and Brian Bridgeforth struggled in the loss. Purtue missed all five shots and committed four turnovers, and Bridgeforth finished with six points.
The Saints (4-6) return to the Greenhouse at 8 p.m. Friday to host Sunrise Christian in the Pizza Hut Classic, and Seward will face Kingdom Prep at 8 p.m. Saturday.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Roy Allen contributed to this report.