By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — For just a moment Saturday night, the Lakin Broncs looked to be riding the wave of momentum that had carried them Thursday night over rival Holcomb in the 3A sub-state semifinal game.
Then that wave crashed hard when Southwestern Heights came alive, scoring 19 unanswered points in the second quarter to blow the title game wide open.
The Mustangs beat the Broncs 62-44 to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 1992.
Lakin, looking to return to state for the first time since 2002, shot right out of the gates. Dylan Shalberg blocked Heights' first shot then dished to Zach Reed for the first basket of the night. Bryant Miller followed with a three, and Reed put back an offensive rebound. Just like that it was 7-0.
Cory Ryan finally got the Mustangs on the board at 2:14 and Oscar Sigala hit a three with under a minute to play as Lakin led after one, 11-7.
After Miller opened the second quarter with a field goal, Heights took off.
They held Lakin scoreless over the next six minutes while going on a tsunami-like surge. Five different players scored the next 19 points in just under six minutes and added eight more in the final minute to take the quarter 27-4 and crush the spirit of the Broncs by halftime.
Ryan started that streak innocuously with a free throw, and Jacob Flores tied the game on a bucket and a free throw. Ryan hit two more baskets, the Flores nailed a short jumper and an reverse layup. Sigala added a bucket, Wes Winfrey nailed a three, Cesar Hernandez scored, and Flores finished with another reverse.
By the time the dust had settled, the enthusiasm had been sucked out of the Lakin crowd and Heights looked invincible by halftime.
Lakin actually outscored the Mustangs 29-28 in the second half, but the damage had already been done.
For first-year Bronc coach Greg Reed, the loss was hard to take, especially with the effort his team made against Holcomb two nights earlier.
"That's the way you want to start out. We had it mapped out. That's the way we wanted to do everything," he said of his team's quick start.
The Heights run caused a bit of panic in the Broncs, Reed said.
"We didn't run our offense as well. Once we get down we tend to panic a little bit and not work the ball and not get the open shot. That's kind of the rhythm we fell into and we couldn't seem to come out of that," he said.
Heights found that rhythm, though.
"In the second quarter, our kids relaxed. Our offense started with our defense. We played good 'D' and got our offense going, and the boys were clicking on all cylinders," Heights coach Chad Novack said.
He added that the team has been doing some of that the past two weeks, "which is a good time to do it," he said after the game.
Ryan's 6-foot-6 presence in the paint seemed to bother the Broncs' inside shooters as they altered their shots to get over him. Reed said Ryan seemed to intimidate his players more than he should have, but give the credit to the big man for knowing how to use his size.
Reed told his team at halftime that they would have to chip away at the 19-point deficit a little at a time and not try to get in a hurry. That meant getting stops while scoring themselves, but instead both teams basically traded baskets the final two quarters.
Heights' leading scorer was Ryan wth 17, followed by Flores with 13 and Winfrey with 12.
Shalberg, who had scored 25 in the semifinal game, led Lakin with just 14 points, nine of those in the final period.
This marked only the second home loss for Lakin (13-5) this season. The only other loss was to the Mustangs in the season opener in December.
Novack will be going to state with the Mustangs for his first time, and he said it feels just great.
"These kids have earned it," he said. "They've worked their butts off two and a half, three hours every day after school and it's paid off. They deserve every bit of it."
SW Heights 62, Lakin 44
LAKIN (15-9) - Jones 3 0-1 6, Shalberg 6 2-10 14, Miller 3 0-0 8, Reed 4 0-0 8, Hamel 4 0-0 8. Totals 20 2-11 44.
SWH (20-3) - Hernandez 2 2-2 6, Winfrey 4 2-2 12, Sigala 3 1-2 8, Flores 6 1-1 13, Eakes 2 2-2 6, Ryan 8 1-2 17.
Lakin 11 4 9 20 -- 44
SWH 7 27 14 14 -- 62
3-point goals - Lakin 2 (Miller 2), SWH 3 (Winfrey 2, Sigala 1).