Eagles fly high on boards, over Broncs
By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — Hugoton coach Craig Szymczak had to miss his team's road loss at Holcomb on Tuesday due to his second child being born.
His Eagles lost that game by 27 points, and he was left wondering if his team could come out and play a full four quarters with a different result.
He got his answer Friday at Lakin as the Eagles out-played the Broncs around the boards for a 52-36 win.
The Eagles grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and took advantage of a number of Lakin turnovers to hold the Broncs to 18 points below their season average.
Parker Titus had 14 points and Kellen Watkins 10 to lead a balanced offensive effort.
Hugoton (11-9) finished with just three wins all last season, so Friday's win guaranteed the Eagles a winning season and provided much needed momentum and confidence heading into sub-state next week.
"We came out with a quick start. Our intensity was up," Szymczak said. "We play 10 guys, kind of like a hockey change. Our defensive intensity created our offense right from the get-go."
Of his team's 11 wins, only two have come with leads at halftime — Friday's game and a week ago against Goodland.
"That shows that if we can play four quarters, we can be a very scary team," he said.
All season his team has been attacking the basket and getting second-chance looks, and it demoralizes their opponents, he added. Mix in a tough-minded defense and it's a formula that is coming together at the right time.
"You want to play your best basketball at the end of the year, and we've been doing that," Szymczak said. "Our confidence level is high. Our kids are having fun, and we're playing well."
Hugoton opens postseason play with a semifinal against host Goodland (8-12) on March 7.
Gage McAtee led the Broncs with 22 points before fouling out early in the fourth quarter. The next leading scorer had just five points.
For Lakin coach Nate Schmidt, it was perhaps a lack of focus, not just during the game but the past two days of practice, that hurt his team.
"That's the second time this season they've held us to under 40 points," he said. "We did a very poor job in practice the last couple days of executing offensively, not a lot of attention to detail. And it carried over. You saw that tonight."
Defensively, he said, the Broncs' effort was there until the ball went up in the air. Once the shot went up, they broke down.
"In the first quarter, we had them down for nine offensive rebounds," he noted. "They ended up with 16. One of our goals is five or less in a game."
Hugoton was the more physical team, and they took advantage of the Broncs, he said.
Lakin (10-10) will travel to Cheney (14-5) to open the Cimarron sub-state Monday.
Hugoton 13 14 18 7 -- 52
Lakin 8 10 13 5 -- 36
Hugoton (11-9)--Titus 3 6-8 14, L. Frederick 1 2-3 5, Sutton 2 0-0 6, N. Frederick 2 0-2 4, Rodriguez 4 1-4 9, Watkins 4 2-2 10, Ro. Davis 1 0-1 2, Duarte 0 2-2 2. Totals 17 13-23 52.
Lakin (10-10)--Shelden 1 1-2 3, Aparicio 0 0-1 0, McAtee 7 6-9 22, Esquivel 2 1-3 5, Yakel 1 0-0 3, Klassen 1 1-2 3. Totals 12 9-17 36.
3-point field goals--Hugoton 5 (Titus 2, L. Frederick, Sutton 2), Lakin 3 (McAtee 2, Yakel).
Fouled out--McAtee, Aparicio. Total fouls--Hugoton 20, Lakin 18.
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