Freshman Edon Avila soars over two young Saints fans during the slam dunk contest Tuesday night at the Green House. Seward basketball players provided a fun evening of contests and a scrimmage as a sneak peek of the upcoming season that begins next week. The firts home game will be Nov. 4 in the Pepsi Classic. Photos courtesy Roy Allen, illustration by Earl Watt
By ROY ALLEN
• Seward assistant athletic director
Saints Bookstore Basketball Preview/Benefit Night is always one of the most exciting events in the Greenhouse all year. It symbolizes the changing of seasons and gets Seward County basketball fans ready for what is to come in the upcoming 2011-2012 hoops season.
Tuesday night was no different as a record Preview Night crowd watched contests between the fans, the coaches, administrators, and teams before watching the Saints Cheerleading squad and Saintsations dance team perform for the first time this year, and then fans watched as the Saints and Lady Saints took the floor for scrimmages to show off their talents.
Fans began to line up for autographs before the doors opened. The seats of the Greenhouse also began to fill up quickly.
One of the evening’s events featured the coaches free throw contest where Lady Saints coaches Toby Wynn and Penny Jones put their six contest winning streak on the line against Bryan Zollinger and Jason Sautter for the Saints. Sautter, the newest member of the Seward County coaching family caught fire early on and made 17 straight free throws at one point during his minute of shooting and helped dethrone the champs as he carried team Zollinger/Sautter to the win.
For the first time ever a pair of SCCC/ATS administrators went head to head on the hardwood next as President Dr. Duane Dunn and Athletic Director Galen McSpadden squared off in the Administrators Challenge.
The two raced to opposite ends of the court for their first task of making a lay-up and McSpadden took the early lead. Dunn was helped — sort of — by one of the Saints players to put his in the basket and both were on to their next challenge of making a free throw. Dunn would knock down his shot from the charity stripe first and would move to the final spot, the three-point line as McSpadden tried to zero in on the bottom of the net. The Seward County President would take the challenge as he did his best Jeremy Jones impersonation from the top of the key to drain the three and cash in the victory.
Four Lady Saints and four Saints were up next for the team three-point competition.
The Saints had their turn first and Hayden Harris, Irvin Hollinger, Brice Jenkins, and Corieon Pearson put up a good number in their two minutes of shooting and then turned their devious buttons on as the ladies took the floor. Sophomores Ashlynn Knoll, Mattie Yanke, Autumn Miller, and Kelsey Willson stepped up for the Lady Saints and with a few Saints players in their ears for distraction, put up a good fight before falling to the fellas for the third straight year.
Then it was time for the most anticipated event of the night, the slam dunk contest. In a last minute, orchestrated substitution, reigning champion and fan favorite Daveon Boardingham was a late entry into the competition and wowed fans with his first round dunk over teammate Thaddeus Smith.
Six-foot, 10-inch freshman Edson Avila had the crowd on the edge of their seats with his dunk over the top of two young fans and then kept the entertainment factor going as he donned a cape and mask for his finals round dunk.
The winner however, was sophomore Deverell Biggs who used teammate Corieon Pearson’s pass to wow the judges and knock off Avila for the win.
The Seward County Spirit Squads were next on the docket and after the Cheerleading and Saintsations dance teams were introduced and launched their t-shirts into the crowd, they put on a high paced aerial show for a cheering crowd.
As the Spirit Squads performance came to a close, the lights turned out and it was time for the main event. With spotlights dancing all over the gym, the Lady Saints and Saints were announced one by one and came out of a tunnel formed by the Cheerleading and Dance squads. At the conclusion of the introductions, the teams had a little something special planned for the crowd as they squared off in the first ever Saints vs. Lady Saints dance off. The Lady Saints choreographed their grooves while the Saints players winged it and even took their show into the crowd. To close the crowd pleasing event, Saints assistant coach Jason Sautter decided to break out his moves and it put his team over the top as a tightly contested fan applause poll gave the “win” to the Saints.
After all of that, it was finally time for basketball. The Lady Saints hit the court first and the black team would come out on top of a lopsided final score as Knoll scored from inside and out to push her team to victory.
When the Saints took the court it was again the black team that came out victorious. Both sides had highlight reel plays as Hollinger came up with a big dunk for the white team and Boardingham for the black. However, the final play of the night was a perfect wrap up as Trey Starks launched up a half court buzzer beater and found nothing but the bottom of the net to seal the win for his black squad.
The Saints and Lady Saints snapped some photos with their fans and got the ultimate compliment from some South Middle School students in attendance as they told the Spirit Squads that the 2011 Basketball Preview Night was “the best night of their lives.”
The Preview Night means just one thing; it is time for the regular season to get underway in the Greenhouse. The Lady Saints will take on Oklahoma Baptist Tuesday night in Shawnee while both teams open their home schedules Nov. 4 in the Pepsi Classic at 6 p.m. and 8 pm.