HOLCOMB — It was chilly outside the Holcomb gym Tuesday night, but things heated up inside, with the Lakin holding off a late surge by Holcomb to get a 66-64 win.
Down 36-34 at halftime, the Broncos outscored the LongHorns in a big way (19-9) in the third and led 61-52 midway into the final period.
But Holcomb's Zion Mason hit a three to cut the lead to three with three minutes to play. Lakin spread the offense, forcing Holcomb to foul.
On a missed free throw, Lakin was called for a foul, which led to a double technical.
Holcomb's River Amos sank both ensuing free throws to make the score 61-57 with 2:29 to play.
On their next possession, the Longhorns missed a shot, but Damon Kepley put back the rebound to cut the lead to two.
Three free throws later, Lakin had the lead back to 64-59, but Holcomb’s Zephyn Mason drained a three from the corner to cut the lead back to two.
Servando Gonzalez made one of two free throws to kick the lead back to three, and the ‘Horns missed their next shot, with the Broncs getting the ball back. But with 24 seconds left, Lakin kicked it out of bounds, giving Holcomb new life.
Jackson Stoppel got fouled with :14 to play, sinking the first of two shots, with Lakin calling time out before his second.
Stoppel sank the next shot, and Holcomb was forced to foul, sending Dominick Daniels to the line for two. He made the first but missed the second.
Holcomb got the ball to Kepley, who missed a layup, but Stoppel was fouled trying to put back the miss and went to the line for two shots with just over three seconds remaining.
He missed the first, and Lakin called time out. Stoppel then missed the second, and the Broncs got the rebound and the win.
For Lakin coach Nate Schmitt, it was the second half intensity that turned things around.
“We stressed at halftime the importance of the third quarter,” he said. “We feel like the third and fourth quarters, with the substitutions that we use, that’s going to give us an advantage in the second half. That definitely happened.”
Henry Chou, who had 18 points for Lakin, fouled out in the third quarter, but others picked up for him. Daniels finished with 18 points and Gonzalez 10, including two 3-pointers in the final period.
The first half was a different story, with seven ties and 11 lead changes. The final tie of the game was in the third at 2:18, when Lakin tied the game on Connor Hudson’s two-pointer.
“It’s crazy, but a lot of those guys out there are freshmen and sophomores,” Schmitt said. “And they’re not out there to not make mistakes; they’re out there making plays. They have the ball in their hands and make big stops, making some baskets and putting us in a position to win.”
Holcomb coach Chad Novack saw his team drop a close game after having won two straight.
Credit goes to Lakin for the halftime adjustments, he said.
“They hit some shots early in the third, and we didn’t do a great job of getting the ball inside,” he said. “It was just a matter of executing our offense in the first half, which we didn’t do. Those things will happen.”
Lakin attacked well off their handoffs and ball screens, and his team didn’t do a good job of closing out, Novack said. That allowed the Broncs to get inside, where they were able to score off the glass or kick the ball outside for long range shots, where the they were 11 of 18.
“They shot extremely well,” he said of Lakin’s offense. “The way they play and with the style they play, if they’re hitting shots, they’re a tough team.”
One big difference, Novack noted, was at the free throw line, where his team was just 16 of 25.
Stoppel led Holcomb with 14 points. Zephyn Mason had 13, Zion Mason 12, and Amos 10.
Lakin (9-7) will host Wichita County Friday, a ranked team they lost to a week ago.
Holcomb (7-9) will travel to Ulysses for a conference game before hosting league rivals Hugoton and Scott City next week.