By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — The Holcomb Longhorns ran their winning streak to seven with a 70-31 win over Lakin on Tuesday.
It's a streak that goes back over two weeks, when they won the Hillsboro tournament, then beat Garden City just a week ago.
It's a stretch that coach Chad Novack said is coming at a good time.
"Ever since that Hillsboro tournament, these guys have really started to believe in what they're doing and what we're trying to do as a team," he said. "It shows on the floor with the confidence they're playing with right now."
The Longhorns outshot, out-rebounded and basically outplayed a Broncs team that has struggled this season (4-12), but it's also a sign that Holcomb has hit its stride, Novack said.
"The kids did a good job, being mentally focused and playing with a lot more confidence in the last month," he said. "They've stepped up and started gelling together."
Holcomb's Blake Richmeier hit a buzzer three to end the first quarter and give the Longhorns a 20-13 lead, and they extended that to 33-13 in the second after scoring on six straight possessions.
Defensively, Holcomb held the Broncs to just three points in that quarter, one of the keys to putting away the game as early as they did. That was one field goal in 13 possessions.
"The first quarter we gave up some easy points a couple times down the floor. We talked about it at the quarter that we needed to make sure we were playing solid defense every time and they did a good in that second quarter," Novack said.
The Longhorns shot 52 percent from the floor, including 7-of-16 from beyond the arc, and they hit 13-of-18 free throws, all above their season averages.
"These kids do a good job of making the extra pass to the open look. When they do those things, it's definitely going to help out your shooting percentage," Novack said.
Ten Longhorns got in the scoring mix, led by Corey Roth with 14, Shane Bennett with 12, and Tyler LaSalle with 11.
For Lakin it was a tough loss in what has been a tough season. Coach Steve Davidson knew Holcomb would shoot well. He was just hoping his team would shoot better than they did, but 13-of-32 from the floor wasn't the answer. Neither were the 18 turnovers and 16 rebounds.
Dalton Shalberg led Lakin with 15 points, but the only other Bronc with more than two points was Kody Christiansen with six.
"We still don't get the ball to Dalton as much as we need to, but not just Dalton — all our post players," Davidson said. "We're trying to throw it to a guard and we're throwing the ball away. That happens way too much."
Davidson liked his team's first-half effort overall, but only 14 points came of it, and that was just hard on the Broncs' confidence, he said.
"It comes down to little things," he added. "They got lots of second chances in the first half. We didn't box out. They know what we need to do; it's just a matter of doing it."
Besides the win and the streak, Holcomb also got back its final missing piece.
Heath Tucker dressed out but did not play in his first time in uniform all season following hip surgery for a football injury.
"We're going to gradually work him into it. He's been practicing with us last week and this week, so we'll just take it one day at a time and go from there," Novack said.
Tucker's presence will give Holcomb yet another dimension to a team that is already showing off its strengths at all positions, he added. That's important with post-season play just ahead.
"This is the time of year that we need to be playing our best basketball. We have room to improve but we're on our way there. We're close to being really solid in every aspect of the game," Novack said.
Lakin 11 3 10 7 -- 31
Holcomb 20 18 18 14 -- 70
Lakin (4-12) — Dasenbrock 1 0-0 2, Shalberg 6 3-5 15, Christiansen 3 0-0 6, Franco 1 0-0 2, Chavez 0 2-4 2, Seeger 1 0-0 2, JuEsquivel 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 5-9 31.
Holcomb (13-3) --LaSalle 4 2-2 11, Hernandez 2 0-0 4, Cox 2 0-0 6, Gottschalk 1 0-0 2, Gilbert 3 0-0 6, Richmeier 3 0-0 7, Roth 4 3-4 14, Bennett 5 2-4 12, Ramsey 1 3-3 5, Sleep 0 3-4 3. Totals 25 13-18 70.
3-pt. goals — Lakin 0-4, Holcomb 7-16 (LaSalle 1, Cox , Richmeier 1, Roth 3). Rebounds — Lakin 17 (Shalberg 3, Seeger 3, Chavez 3), Holcomb 26 (Bennett 10). Turnovers — Lakin 18, Holcomb 8. Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Lakin 14, Holcomb 8.