By KEVIN THOMPSON
SUBLETTE — Win or lose, both Sublette and Stanton County head into next week's Class 2A sub-state tournament liking what they see.
The Trojans held on Friday to overcome the host Larks, 63-59 in a game that came down to a 3-pointer by Johny Martens that spun around twice before popping out of the rim. Instead of overtime, the Trojans got the win.
But both coaches saw a lot in their respective teams that bodes well for next week.
Stanton County, notoriously slow starters, came from six down in the opening period to take an eight-point lead at the halftime break. That came in part because senior Colby Overturf got hot, hitting four 3-pointers on four attempts, part of his team-high 20 points.
The Trojans took that lead up to 43-34 midway into the third before going cold and watching Sublette mount a successful comeback.
Martens and Andrew Lower hit a three each, and Taylor Williamson scored a field goal. A pair of Lower free throws tied the game at 44 before the quarter ended 47-46 in favor of Stanton County.
The Trojans tried once again to put the game away, using a 6-0 run to build it lead back to six before going cold again.
Kyler Line and Williamson got the tie back at 53 before Jacob Cron buried a three with 4:14 remaining.
The Trojans scored only one more field goal after that, but all they needed was free throws and the almost-flushed missed three-pointer to hold on for the win.
Stanton County finished the regular season at 16-4 (6-2 in league) and grabbed the third seed at sub-state.
Coach Marty Garrison likes the effort his team showed Friday and looks to take it forward.
Stanton County hit nine threes, but even without a big man inside, he still had players crash the boards (three of them had eight each), and a number of them stepped up on defense when they needed it.
"I hate the first quarters, though," Garrison joked. "Those give me more gray hairs."
But his team gets it done through effort and hard work, he added, both of which are keys to winning in the next rounds.
Sublette coach Justin Moore found good in the loss, although it took a few minutes of reflection afterwards to see what his team had done.
Two starters were at a state music festival and one, sophomore point guard Nate Cearly, is out with an elbow injury.
"I get after these guys a lot, but that's because it doesn't matter who's on the floor, I expect them to be great because I know they're capable of it," he said. "I'm proud of the way these kids fought."
His team attacked the basket in the first quarter but not so much the second, he said, and he challenged them to get back at it, and that was one of the keys to the comeback.
"Our kids kept fighting and didn't go away," Moore said. "Even that one shot at the end — maybe it just wasn't meant to be.
Williamson led all scorers with 27 points, and Lower added 10.
Stanton County hosts Leoti Monday night on the same side of the bracket as No.-2 South Gray, with top-seed Meade on the other side.
"We're looking forward to next week and seeing what happens," Garrison said.
Sublette hosts Elkhart, and team with whom they have split, but Moore thinks his team, with two starters back in the lineup, will be ready.
Stanton County 12 23 12 16 -- 63
Sublette 18 9 19 13 -- 59
Stanton County (16-4, 6-2) — Kendrick 4 5-8 13, Logan 3 0-0 6, Amerin 1 0-1 2, Cron 6 0-2 14, Smith 3 0-0 8, Overturf 6 3-4 20. Totals 23-47 8-15 63.
Sublette (12-7, 4-4) — Lower 3 2-2 10, Chavarria 0 2-2 2, Williamson 13 0-1 27, Martens 1 0-0 3, Line 4 00- 8, Gonzalez 1 2-6 4, Webb 1 1-4 3. Totals 23-53 7-15 59. 3-pt. goals — Stanton County 9-19 (Cron 2, Smith 2, Overturf 5), Sublette 4-16 (Lower 2, Williamson, Martens). Rebounds — Stanton County 30 (Kendrick 8, Smith 8, Overturf 8), Sublette 28 (Williamson 7, Line 7). Turnovers — Stanton County 13, Sublette 17. Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Stanton County 13, Sublette 18.