By KEVIN THOMPSON
SCOTT CITY — The road to "three-peating" as state champions in Class 3A began at home for Scott City.
The Beavers started their journey with an opening round sub-state victory over visiting Lakin, 64-35, Tuesday night.
But that's not to say the road didn't come with a few bumps and detours, at least early.
Scott City was just 4-of-15 from the field in the opening quarter, all by senior post player Drew Kite, who scored his 1000th career point on his third field goal of the game.
But Lakin's poor shooting (2-of-10) and seven turnovers kept the Beavers in the lead at the break, 14-8.
Then the Scott City that is ranked first in Class 3A got things going, outscoring the Broncs 19-9 in the second period and pulling away in the third with a more characteristic 27-point effort.
Senior Brett O'Neil joined Kite in the exclusive 1,000-point club on his first field goal of the second quarter.
But the Beavers' slow start had their coaching staff scratching their heads.
Normally a 52 percent shooting team, the Beavers were just 11-of-29 in the first half (38 percent), though they got that up to 49 percent with a better second half. The Beavers also had just one assist in the first period. Kite made the team's first basket on its eighth attempt at the 3:06 mark of the opening quarter.
"There was nothing characteristic about the way we played tonight," Beavers' assistant coach Scott Holt said. "There was nothing in our eyes tonight that showed fire, nothing that looked like us. I think it's one of those kinds of games we need to get out of our system."
Lakin, however, failed to capitalize on Scott City's slow start. While they physically out-played the Beavers under the rim, six turnovers on seven possessions crippled the Broncs' upset attempt.
Lakin was just 4-of-19 in the opening half (21 percent) and turned the ball over 17 times to aid the Beavers at a time when they were struggling, an issue Lakin coach Steve Davidson said could have been a key to keeping his team in the game.
"We were fortunate they had an off night shooting from the outside, and that's what you've got to hope for," he said. "We're trying to stay inside and protect the lane, and we did a good job with that."
Where the Beavers got the bulk of their points, Davidson added, was on second chances.
"Scott City works hard. You have got to box them out hard and early. If you don't, they're going to get the ball," he said.
The Beavers out-rebounded Lakin just 31-27, but 14 offensive boards led to 25 of their 64 points.
Kite had 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting and 6-of-7 from the line. Tyler Hess had 10 points. Kite also had 14 rebounds.
Davidson knew his team would have to play its best game to stay with Scott City.
"I thought defensively, we played hard. I'm proud of the kids for playing hard," he said. "We just couldn't put the ball in the hole near enough."
Dalton Shalberg led Lakin with 17 points, and Dallas Franco had 10.
Holt said the Beavers didn't practice well all week, and they played the way they practiced.
"Coach (Glen O'Neil) talked about that. He keyed on that with the kids tonight and said, 'How far do we want to go?'" Holt said. "We're going to have to pick it up, and they know that. Lakin played a hard game tonight. They played physical, and that caught us by surprise."
Scott City (20-1) advances to Friday night's semifinal to take on sub-state host Southwestern Heights, a 64-61 winner over Cimarron Tuesday night.
On the other side of the bracket are a pair of weather-delayed games to be played tonight as Cheney (17-3) takes on Anthony/Chaparral (7-13) and third-seed Holcomb (17-4) hosts Kingman (8-12).
The finals are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Lakin 8 9 13 5 — 35
Scott City 14 19 27 4 — 64
Lakin (7-14) — Shalberg 4 9-11 17, McAtee 1 0-0 2, Christiansen 0 0-2 0, Franco 4 0-0 10, Chavez 0 0-1 0, JuEsquivel 0 1-2 1, Gilleland 2 1-2 5. Totals 11-35 11-15 35.
Scott City (20-1) — B.O'Neil 3 3-6 9, Wells 0 0-1 0, T O'Neil 1 1-3 3, Hess 4 2-6 10, Habiger 2 0-2 5, Wilson 1 0-0 3, J.Meyer 1 0-2 2, Kite 11 6-7 28, Ratzlaff 1 0-0 2. Totals 27-55 15-28 64.
3-pt. goals — Lakin 2-12 (Franco 2), Scott City 2-12 (Habiger, Wilson). Rebounds — Lakin 27 (Shalberg 5, Chavez 5, Gilleland 5), Scott City 31 (Kite 14, J.Meyer 5). Turnovers — Lakin 24, Scott City 13. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Lakin 21, Scott City 19.