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Monday, 02 February 2009 00:00

Coach Bryan Zollinger discusses a play with Jon Tassin Monday at the  
Green House. Zollinger has been trying to instill excellence in his  
second year at Seward, and the team responded with a dominating  
performance over Hutchinson, 82-58.
Daily Leader photo/
Earl Watt

In a season where Seward has gone to five overtime games, and lost  
three of them, where the leading scorer suffered an injury and missed  
the entire conference schedule, where the Saints had big first half  
leads disappear during second-half meltdowns, Seward discovered they  
could still play like champions on ...

• Daily Leader
After shocking the NJCAA a year ago with a third place national  
finish, after shooting out to a 13-0 start this season, the Seward  
County Saints’ basketball season seemed to derail, dropping six of  
the last nine games.
Bryan Zollinger was looking for something, anything, to provide the  
motivation to get that spark back for his team.
He found it in Al Pacino.
Prior to Monday’s must-win game against Hutchinson, Zollinger shared  
the locker room clip from “Any Given Sunday” with his team.
And the inspired play that followed resulted in an 82-58 rout of the  
Hutchinson Blue Dragons.
“I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of how our team responded  
tonight,” Zollinger said. “After the adversity we’ve faced, tonight  
was a positive step. They responded as men.”
The defensive pressure, and the drive to score has been missing in  
recent games, but there was no denying that the Saints were playing  
high-stakes basketball against the Blue Dragons.
An emotional Zollinger had difficulty expressing himself after the  
big home win.
“Everyone dug in,” he said. “I told the team what Al Pacino said from  
‘Any given Sunday.’ The inches we need to succeed are all around us.  
We watched that clip in the locker room before the game. A lot of  
guys got pretty emotional, so it is nice to know that after all the  
hard work we put in that guys care enough to step up like that.”
And step up they did.
At times, it seemed like Seward had more players on the court than  
Hutchinson with defensive intensity that double-teamed every Blue  
Dragon that touched the ball.
Seward forced 25 turnovers.
The Saints slipped out of the gate and only scored one basket in the  
first three minutes. Seward trailed Hutch 8-2.
Over the next three minutes, Seward went on a 10-2 run capped by a  
Thijin Moses three-pointer to take a 14-10 lead.
Seward never trailed the rest of the way.
The defensive pressure continued to force Hutch into low-percentage  
shots while the Saints continued to push for the basket.
With the final seconds ticking away before half, Seward snagged three-
straight rebounds off of missed shots and tips before Jon Tassin  
finally tipped the ball in as the half expired to give the Saints a  
44-34 lead.
And this time, there would be no second-half let-down.
Marquez Patterson opened the half with a three-pointer, and moments  
later Robert Sigala hit another to put Seward ahead 50-35.
“We made some tweaks to open the flow up for the guards,” Zollinger  
said. “But it was our attitude to play better more than an X or O  
deal. It was players responding as men.”
Hutchinson never made a serious run the entire second half. The Blue  
Dragons never had more than four consecutive points. On this night,  
the Saints intensity continued form the tip to the final buzzer.
“I thought there were a couple of times where we started to take a  
quick shot,” Zollinger said, “and I would give them the ‘Hey’, and  
point to the head. ‘Have poise,’ and they responded. I made a  
concerted effort to have more poise myself. They responded to that.  
Mostly it was men managing the clock, time and score situation.”
Tassin led the Saints with 16 points, Moses scored 14, Patterson had  
11, and Robert Sigala had a Jayhawk West Conference high of 10.
“Maybe we’re starting to turn that corner,” Zollinger said. “We’ll  
see through the next few games.”
With seven conference games remaining, Seward  showed that any given  
Monday could turn out to be any given season.
“We have to play hard every night,” Zollinger said. “We have to play  
tough with the ball every night and show passion and care about what  
were doing. It's not what you know, but are you willing to work hard  
and work with other people and make sacrifices.”
Seward (17-6, 4-5) travels to Great Bend to face No. 10 Barton (21-2,  
8-1) at 8 p.m. Wednesday.



About The High Plains Daily Leader

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 and the Associated Press.

For more, contact us.


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