By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — Lakin didn't exactly get its seventh straight win in dominating fashion, but the Broncs used their characteristic tenacity to hold off a valiant Hugoton effort 43-40.
In doing so, Lakin has now won nine of its last 10 games and heads into sub-state Monday with some much-deserved confidence and momentum.
Bryant Miller's 22 points led the Broncs charge. After Hugoton grabbed a 15-9 lead early in the second quarter, the senior cut the lead in half with a three. His 10 second-quarter points led a 14-7 rally and got the Broncs a 3-point halftime lead.
Miller's three to start the third period gave the Broncs their largest lead of the night at six points.
But coach Jason Hajek's Eagles, despite being losers of four straight games, refused to quit, cutting the Lakin lead to two at the break.
Jason Persinger, averaging 15 points a game, scored 10 of his 20 points in the final period, including a traditional 3-point play with just over a minute to play, then hitting two free throws to tie the game at 40-40 with 51 seconds remaining.
Lakin turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds play and Persinger went one-on-one with Lakin's Shane Davidson. Persinger was called for the offensive charge, then hit with a technical foul in response, ending his night.
Instead of just getting a turnover, Lakin got free throws and the ball with just six seconds left.
Lakin hit three of its final six free throws for the win. As a team they missed 10 free throws, which could have been costly.
For Lakin coach Steve Davidson, it was a tough win, but it's what his team has been doing the second half of the season.
"They're a tough team," he said of the Eagles. "They played hard all night long. But our kids played hard. It was just a defensive battle."
After a 1-8 start, they have only lost to Scott City and Meade, two top-ranked teams in the state, to take an 11-10 record into Monday's sub-state game.
More importantly, the Broncs bring the team they knew they had all season.
His team's confidence has been rising during that winning stretch, Davidson added, and it's likely to carry over into the playoffs.
"I'm proud of the kids. Everybody's excited about getting the win," he said. "Hopefully we get some rest and get ready for Monday."
Lakin hosts Cimarron Monday, a team they beat earlier but one that Davidson knows is tough.
Despite the loss, Hajek liked his team's effort, especially with the losing streak they've been experiencing.
"Effort was there, which it hasn't been," he said. "I told the boys I couldn't get on them because that's what I asked them to do and that's what they did the whole game. It's just unfortunate it comes down to one play at the end."
Hajek challenged his team to be more aggressive in the second half, which led to the close game.
Hugoton now travels to Ulysses on Tuesday.
Hugoton 13 7 8 12 -- 40
Lakin 9 14 7 13 -- 43
Hugoton (40) — Frederick 1 3-4 5, Vela 2 1-4 6, Crawford 2 0-0 4, Mora 1 0-0 2, Persinger 7 6-7 20, Heger 1 0-1 2, Rodriguez 0 1-2 1. Totals 14 11-18 40.
Lakin (43) — Shalberg 1 3-4 5, Miller 7 5-10 22, Davidson 2 1-2 5, Kinnier 0 3-5 3, Chavez 1 0-0 2, Armstrong 1 1-2 3, Geubelle 1 1-2 3. Totals 13 14-25 43.
3-point goals--Hugoton 1 (Vela 1), Lakin 3 (Miller 3).