PARK CITY, Kan. – Third time is the charm for the Lady Saints. After reaching the Region VI Finals the previous two years, the Seward County women's basketball team captured the championship Wednesday night, beating the Independence Pirates 59-47. Seward also punched their ticket to Lubbock, Texas for the NJCAA National Tournament with the win.
The Lady Saints got the game started in electrifying fashion, going on a 7-0 run with their signature trap defensive forcing three quick turnovers within the first minute of the game. The tide quickly turned in favor of the Pirates however, going on an 10-2 run to take a one-point lead. Indy took a 12-11 lead into the second quarter.
Seward came out in the second quarter and immediately took the lead, one they wouldn't give up for the remainder of the game. Though they took the lead, the Lady Saints couldn't pull ahead in traditional Seward fashion. This time, they slowly built a lead and held off any attempt by the Pirates to get back into the game, taking a 25-20 lead into halftime.
Mounsey and Seagler got their shots to fall in the third quarter to help a Lady Saints extend their lead to nine points by the end of the quarter. Fourteen of the 18 points came from the two sophomores in the third quarter. On three straight possessions, a pick and pop was used to get either Mounsey or Seagler open for a three. The two pushed the lead to 43-34 heading into the third quarter.
The Pirates started the fourth quarter by cutting the Seward lead to five points, but a Silvia Veloso steal and layup ended any Indy threat. Seward's defense continued to play tough basketball throughout the fourth quarter, forcing five turnovers in the final 10 minutes of play. The Seward fans could sense that the trophy was heading back to Liberal as they started clapping down the final minute and a half of play with the Lady Saints leading 55-45. Two Seagler free throws put the game clear out of reach for the Pirates, as they Lady Saints won 59-47.
It marks the first time since 2007 that the Lady Saints have won the Region VI Tournament. It marks just the second time that Seward has made the NJCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, last doing it in 2004 and 2005.
The Lady Saints shot just 34.9 percent (22 of 63) from the floor and 23.1 percent (6-26) from behind the arc, but their defense was too much for the Pirates to handle. Indy shot 32.1 percent (17 of 53) from the field and only 11.1 percent (1 of 11) from deep. Seward forced the Pirates into 26 turnovers with 20 of them coming off turnovers.
Three Lady Saints scored in double-figures – Mollie Mounsey (21 pts), Vilma Covane (11 pts), Brennyn Seagler (11 pts) and Silvia Veloso (10 pts). Veloso had one of the more impressive games of the season, flirting with a quadruple-double finishing with eight assists, seven rebounds, and seven steals to go along with her ten points.
Following the game, the All-Region Tournament team was announced with the Lady Saints holding three spots on it, including the Most Valuable Player. Vilma Covane, Silvia Veloso and Mollie Mounsey were named to the All-Tournament team with Mounsey being named MVP.
Seward will wait for their seed in the NJCAA National Tournament to find out who they will play in Lubbock, Texas. The seeds will be released on Monday, March 12 at 10:00 a.m. CT, while the tournament will take place March 19-24 at the Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock.