By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — Last week, the Lakin Broncs avenged a league tournament loss to Cimarron with a win against the Jays, their second straight.
Tuesday, they looked to keep that winning formula going against the No. 5 team in Class 3A, long-time rival Holcomb, winners of six straight.
In a game that featured surprisingly low scoring, the Longhorns outlasted Lakin 53-33 in a game that was close early in the third quarter.
Following a first half that Holcomb lead 23-16, Lakin's Ryder Yakel hit a 3-pointer to get the Broncs to within four at the 7:17 mark.
By the end of that period, Holcomb was up by 18 and never looked back.
Dalton Gottschalk answered Yakel's 3 with field goals on Holcomb's next three possessions.
After Javier Esquivel got Lakin within eight, Heath Tucker answered with five points and took the lead to 13.
The closest the Broncs (7-9) got in the final quarter was 14 with just over five minutes to play, and the Longhorns held on for the 20-point win.
Tucker led Holcomb with 15 points and Trey Sleep added 10.
Conner VanCleave and Christian Merz both added 11.
Gage McAtee led Lakiin with 14 points, the only Bronc in double figures.
Lakin struggled from the floor, going 12 for 34, and they turned the ball over 23 times, two more than their total rebounds.
Holcomb, meanwhile, was 19 of 48 from the floor, grabbed 26 boards and turned it over just 13 times.
It was a tough win for Holcomb, according to coach Chad Novack, despite the final point differential.
"Early on, Lakin went to a 3-2 zone and packed it in on us. We didn't do a good job handling that and settled for the three ball," he said. "We settled for the wrong shots, and it got pretty tight that first quarter and a half."
But once his team settled down, he added, the Longhorns played well. He was proud of his defense for holding Lakin to just 33 points, the best execution on that end he's seen all season.
"Offensively, we got a little impatient," Novack said. "Lakin did a good job making us really work for our shots."
The Longhorns got more comfortable moving the ball in the second half and spread the ball out, he said.
Novack also was impressed with his team's hustle, something they have stressed since a lackluster performance in Scott City a few weeks ago.
"Tonight we battled, scrapped, fought," he said. "Every time there was a loose ball, we had someone on the floor. These guys want to sacrifice for their teammates."
Lakin coach Nate Schmitt was disappointed in the loss but pleased with his team's effort. Shots just did not fall.
The Broncs didn't score in a four-minute stretch in the opening period, over spans of three and two minutes in the second, and just once in seven minutes in the second half.
The first half score proximity gave his Broncs a chance, Schmitt said.
"We were defending the rebounding in the first half, but what hurt us in the third quarter was they were scoring on second chances," he said. "They have some phenomenal offensive threats. We focused our attention on (Sleep and Tucker), but others stepped it up. You have to pick your poison when you play a team like that."
Coming off the Cimarron win, Schmitt knew this would be a tough game, and even in a loss, he found the positives.
"We held a Holcomb team that's averaging over 65 a game to 53 points," he said. "They're a state-ranked team, and I'm pleased with a lot of the things we did against them.
Holcomb (12-3) has a string of home games Friday, Saturday and Tuesday, which doesn't leave a lot of time for practice.
"We just play one game at a time. I think our kids are really focused right now," Novack said.
At a long team meeting Monday, his players unanimously agreed that they want to make something great happen this year.
"If we can stay focused and work hard on both ends of the floor, we have the potential to do something," he said.
Holcomb 12 11 18 12 -- 53
Lakin 5 11 7 10 -- 33
Holcomb (11-3)--Gottschalk 3 0-0 6, Tucker 4 5-5 15, Sleep 4 2-4 10, Ruupp 0 2-2 2, Richmeier 2 0-0 4, Merz 2 2-2 8, VanCleave 4 0-0 8. Totals 19-48 11-13 53.
Lakin (7-8)--Shelden 2 0-0 4, Aparacio 1 1-1 3, McAtee 4 5-7 14, Yakel 1 0-0 3, Esquivel 4 0-1 8, Klassen 0 1-2 1. Totals 12-34 7-11 33.
3-point field goals--Holcomb 2-15 (Tucker 2), Lakin 2-5 (McAtee, Yakel). Rebounds--Holcomb 26 (VanCleave 9), Lakin 21 (Shelden 6, Esquivel 6). Turnovers--Holcomb 13, Lakin 23. Fouled out--none. Total fouls--Holcomb 15, Lakin 12. Technical fouls--none.
Holcomb 58, Lakin 36
After starting the season 9-0, the Holcomb Lady Longhorns had gone 3-2 in the last two weeks.
At 12-2, the No. 5 team in Class 3A had its eyes set on Lakin to build up a head of steam as they get set for a tough schedule heading into postseason play.
As a birthday gift to their coach, the Longhorns delivered a 58-36 win.
Haley Heydman led the Longhorns with 28 points, and Holcomb collectively hit 10 3-pointers en route to the win.
For the game, Holcomb was 21 of 50 from the floor (10 of 24 from behind the arc). Lakin was 13 of 50 (26 percent).
The Longhorns took advantage of some tentative Lakin shooting early and capitalized quickly.
Heydman scored 19 first-half points, Holcomb shot 60 percent from the floor and held a 35-13 lead at halftime.
In the first quarter, Heydman scored 11 points and Lakin converted just one of its 13 shot attempts, setting the template for the rest of the game.
Emalee Ratliff and Taylor Deniston both scored nine points, with each hitting a trio of 3's as part of the Longhorn long-range bombardment.
Birthday coach Kenton Tennal was happy with Heydman's performance, not so much with how much she scored but how she scored.
"She stopped shooting over people and worked on getting all the way to the basket," he said. "I know she thinks she's a monster, but she's only 5-8 1/2, at best. This was a big game for her."
The 10 3's was lower than he expected, Tennal said, but his team practices that and can hit them, which opens up the Longhorns' inside game.
With the last part of the season coming up, he added, they'll need to use all the weapons they can.
One of those weapons not suited up is Jordan Jarnagin, a 6-foot sophomore post who has been resting due to a concussion suffered three weeks ago.
Tennal said he looks for Jarnagin to return Friday, a league matchup against Colby. It's a big game for the Longhorns as they battle for a league title.
"It's a pretty big goal," he said. "We take pride in winning a league championship. Hopefully Jordan can go then."
Lakin was led by Mariah Watkins' 11 points and Robin Ritsema's nine.
Lakin coach Shawn Michaelis left the game after the third quarter to be with his assistant coach, wife Mandy, who is expecting their third child.
Holcomb 15 20 14 9 -- 58
Lakin 4 9 10 13 -- 36
Holcomb (13-2)--Ratliff 3 0-0 9, Heydman 11 5-6 28, Deniston 3 0-0 9, Amos 2 1-2 7, Harrington 2 0-0 5. Totals 21-50 6-8 58.
Lakin (8-9)--Watkins 2 7-11 11, Ritsema 4 1-2 9, Calderon 2 0-1 6, Simmons 1 0-0 2, Reed 2 0-0 4, Dale 1 0-0 2, Swank 1 0-1 2. Totals 13-50 8-15 36.
3-point field goals--Holcomb 10-24 (Ratliff 3, Heydman, Deniston 3, Amos 2, Harrington), Lakin 2-11 (Calderon 2). Rebounds--Holcomb 26 (Amos 6, Deniston 5, Engler 5), Lakin 30 (Ritsema 7, Watkins 5). Turnovers--Holcomb 11, Lakin 14. Fouled out--Amos. Total fouls--Holcomb 16, Lakin 10. Technical fouls--none.