By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — Three minutes does not a game make.
But in a game of such importance, the first three minutes set the tone as the Holcomb girls won the Great West Activies Conference crown with a 69-49 win over visiting Hugoton Tuesday night in Holcomb.
This avenged a four-point loss at Hugoton just a few weeks ago, one of Holcomb's only two losses on the season.
The win also secured the top seed in the sub-state tournament that begins Monday.
Holcomb, the No. 3 team in Class 3A, faced off at home against Hugoton, the No. 2 team in Class 4A-II.
After both teams committed two turnovers to start the game, Holcomb scored on four-straight possessions to go up 10-0 after just 3:02 was gone.
It was 12-1 after the Lady Eagles hit a free throw at the 2:24 mark, and Holcomb held a 19-7 lead at the first break, holding Hugoton to just two field goals.
They moved that mark to 24-7 before the Eagles started to get on track. They used a trio of 3s to close the gap to 28-13 with five minutes left in the half, and got it to the 13-point deficit twice going into the break.
The Longhorns held a good edge on shooting (14 of 24 to 8 of 19) and had hit six treys to Hugoton's four in the first half.
The Eagles opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to six points.
Holcomb countered with a 9-0 run of its own to retake the secure lead and held on to the finish.
Holcomb was 10 of 18 from behind the arc.
Kylee Amos hit six of those in leading the Longhorns with 21 points. Haley Heydman and Taylor Deniston each added 16.
For the senior Amos, the title was sweet, and when Hugoton cut the lead to six in the third, she said her teammates made the decision to change things back their way right then.
"We got after each other and told each to 'let's go,' and then we picked it up and went," she said. "It was that simple."
The difference this time around with the Eagles was preparation, Amos said.
"We wanted it more this time. Our mind was set. Last time it wasn't," she said. "We overlooked them. This time we knew their offense."
Coach Kenton Tennal said it really was that as simple as that this time.
"Our defense was better the first quarter. We shot better," he said. "We had girls show up this time. Last time we didn't."
This time, he said, they were ready for Hugoton's tough defense and drew them out of their zone with two weeks of preparation.
"A traditional high-low just wasn't going to do it," he said.
When the Eagles got close in the third, Tennal praised his team for their response.
"We got frustrated, but we were able to turn it around. That shows a lot of maturity for the girls to not let them all the way back into it," he said.
The quick start gave his team the confidence they needed to get the offense going, Tennal said.
"That's huge for us to start like that. With that lead, we got them out of their zone when we wanted to," he said. "That was pretty tough for them."
Despite playing Holcomb evenly the final three quarters, Hugoton coach Andy Gillen said Holcomb's quick start was hard to overcome, much different from the 52-48 win on Jan. 31.
"The difference in the game was they came out with more intensity, and we didn't match that level, and that was that," he said. "With a team as talented as Holcomb, you can't afford to dig yourself into as deep a hole as we got ourselves into. That was the difference in the game."
Hugoton's talented freshmen led the team in scoring again.
Amy Scott had 13 points, Katy Heger 12 and Melissa Fabela eight.
Hugoton (16-3) has a game on Friday at Lakin before heading into sub-state. A young team with no seniors, the Eagles should bounce back from this loss, Gillen said.
"Part of being young is learning that, when you come out for big games, you have to come out with a certain amount of intensity, and hopefully we learned that lesson tonight," he said.
Once his team was able to settle down and play their game, Gillen added, they got the shots they normally get, but it was too much of a hole.
"We constantly preach that it's always the next play, focus on the next play," he said. "We'll go back (today) and practice for the next game. You've got to prepare for the next challenge."
The Eagles worked hard to get in position for a GWAC title, and not getting it was disappointing, he added.
"But it didn't work out, and now we've got to refocus," Gillen said.
With the top seed in sub-state, Holcomb will most likely host Chaparral Monday at 5 p.m. with the boys to follow.
Times are tentative until the state announces pairings officially later today.
Hugoton 7 17 15 20 -- 49
Holcomb 19 18 15 17 -- 69
Hugoton (16-3, 8-2)--Armendariz 2 0-4 4, Fabela 3 0-0 8, Scott 4 5-7 13, Jiminez 0 2-2 2, Pena 2 0-0 6, Heger 4 2-4 12, Sosa 1 1-2 4. Totals 16 10-17 49.
Holcomb (18-2, 9-1)--Ratliff 2 0-0 5, Jarnagin 2 3-4 7, Sinoy 0 1-2 1, Heydman 6 4-7 16, Denniston 5 4-4 16, Engler 0 0-2 0, Amos 6 3-4 21, Harrington 1 0-0 3. Totals 22 15-23 69.
3-point field goals--Hugoton 7-18 (Fabela 2, Pena 2, Heger 2, Sosa), Holcomb 10-18 (Ratliff, Deniston 2, Amos 6, Harrington). Rebounds--Hugoton 22 (Pena 7), Holcomb 29 (Jarnagin 13). Turnovers--Hugoton 16, Holcomb 17. Fouled out--Amendariz. Total fouls--Hugoton 20, Holcomb 14. Technical fouls--none.