SUBLETTE There was no shortage of heart-stopping moments in the final stages of Tuesday night's boys basketball battle between the Lakin Broncs and the Sublette Larks.

And, to say the least, it was all about survival.

And just by the hair, the Larks managed to escape, hanging on desperately for a 55-54 victory over the Broncs.

For Sublette coach Justin Moore, it was as much about getting a lead, seeing it dissipate and then somehow recapturing it to hang on for their third win of the season against two losses.

"Our kids just kept fighting and fighting through it," an exhausted and emotional Moore said afterward. "For as poorly as we shot the ball (15 of 46, 32 percent), it's pretty amazing that we found a way to win."

The critical big plays that provided Sublette's chance to secure the win came in the final two minutes, when the Larks were down 52-46.

Nathan Cearley, who had a poor shooting night (2 of 16), made two free throws, and Johny Martens canned his second 3-pointer of the quarter to pull the Larks to within one, 52-51, with 1:03 remaining.

The Broncs missed on their next trip down the floor, and then it was Travis Hinkle who drained two free throws to put the Larks up for the first time since early in the fourth. Lakin called a timeout with 18 seconds to play, but turned the ball over at the 12-second mark and were forced to foul. Andrew Lower, who finished with 16 points, hitting on 10-of-12 free throws, sunk his final two charities with 11.8 seconds on the clock. Lakin's final trip down the floor resulted in a missed 3-pointer by Caleb Seeger only to have Gage McAtee get the rebound and put-back with less than a second to go and time ran out.

"For as many turnovers as we had, and as poorly as we shot (22 of 53), we probably didn't deserve the win, but I'm awfully proud of the fight the boys showed in coming back," said first-year Lakin coach Nate Schmitt. "It was a great opportunity for us and we'll learn from it."

Schmitt was pleased with his team's rebounding effort (45-21) and said it was a point of emphasis heading into the game.

"We've been the worst in the league, and we really emphasized it this past week," Schmitt said. "It tells me we're getting better, but making that many turnovers (27) makes it really hard to win."

It looked early on like Sublette would run away with the game, leading 15-5 after one quarter. But then the Broncs closed the gap with a 16-9 second-quarter performance, making it 24-21 at intermission. The Larks were still ahead by 10, 37-27, with two minutes remaining in the third, but the Broncs closed on a 10-4 run to slice the lead to four, 41-37.

For Moore, it was almost another nightmare finish after he saw his team lose a 17-point third-quarter lead to Cimarron last week in the semifinals of the Bluejay Invitational.

"I thought our kids really jumped to the ball on defense and created a bunch of the turnovers," Moore said. "We didn't let them dictate the game even when they took the lead."

In addition to Lower's 16 points, the Larks got 15 points from Martens, who knocked down 3 of 5 from behind the arc. The Larks cashed in 21-of-27 free throws, compared to 9-of-15 for the Broncs, in a deciding factor in the outcome, as well.

Lakin had a balanced scoring attack with Javier Esquivel leading the way with 13; Pancho Klassen added 12 and Ian Sheldon chipped in with 11. Sheldon had a double-double by grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds.

Lakin 5 16 16 17 -- 54

Sublette 15 9 17 14 -- 55

Lakin (54) Seeger 4-13 1-2 9, Sheldon 5-7 1-1 11, Aparicio 0-2 1-2

1, Armstrong 0-1 0-0 0, McAee 1-3 0-1 2, Yakel 2-10 1-2 6, Esquivel

6-10 1-2 13, Klassen 4-7 4-5 12. Totals 22-53 9-15 54.

Sublette (55) Leverett 1-5 2-4 5, Whaler 0-1 0-0 0, Lower 3-8

10-12 16, Blackwood 3-5 2-2 8, Hinkle 1-1 2-2 4, J. Martens 5-10 2-2 15,

Cearley 2-16 3-5 7. Totals 15-46 21-27 55.

3-point goals--Lakin 1-13 (Seeger 0-6, Sheldon 0-1, Aparicio 0-1,

Armstrong 0-1, Yakel 1-3, Klassen 0-1), Sublette 4-22 (Leverett 1-4,

Whaler 0-1 Lower 0-1, J. Martens 3-5, Cearley 0-11). Rebounds--Lakin 45

(Sheldon 13), Sublette 21 (Leverett 5). Turnovers--Lakin 27, Sublette

17. Fouls--Lakin 24, Sublette 15. Fouled out--Lakin (Yakel). Technical

foul--Sublette (Leverett).


In the girls' game, the Lady Broncs earned their first victory of the season with a 42-35 triumph over the Lady Larks, thus getting the proverbial monkey off coach Shawn Michaelis' back as his team heads into the holiday break.

Lakin sophomore Robin Ritsema proved to be the major force inside that keyed the Lady Broncs' first win of the season.

The 6-1 sophomore had a double-double with 18 points off 9-of-17 field goals, and had 12 rebounds in helping her team to a 37-27 edge on the boards.

"She's certainly capable, and she's young and hasn't played a lot," Michaelis said of his young post player. "We've gotta get her stronger, but we really looked to pound the ball inside and take advantage of that."

Lakin trailed only early in the game, and led 14-5 after one quarter and 25-12 at intermission.

But behind the 3-point bullseye shooting of sophomore guard Brooke Briggs (three 3-pointers) in the third period, the Lady Larks rallied to make it 31-28 after three quarters.

"We knew she could shoot the three, so we changed into our diamond-and-one defense in the fourth," Michaelis said. "We just had to know where she was. I thought it was by far our best effort of the season."

The defensive strategy worked as the Lady Larks could manage just seven points in the final period, and were never closer than that three points to begin the quarter.

For Michaelis, it was a big relief after his team had lost three of its games by four points or less.

"That always makes it tough, but I thought we played pretty well," MIchaelis said.

Ritsema was the lone double-figure scorer for the Lady Broncs, while Briggs paced Sublette with 17 points and finished 4 of 8 from behind the arc.


Lakin 14 11 6 11 -- 42

Sublette 5 7 16 7 -- 35

Lakin (42) Martinez 0-1 0-0 0, Watkins 2-9 1-2 5, Ritsema 9-17 0-0 18, Davidson 1-6 0-0 2, Hernandez 2-2 0-0 4, Simmons 2-8 3-5 7, Hendrix 0-3 0-0 0, Reed 2-3 0-1 4, Swank 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 18-49 6-10 42.

Sublette (35) Watson 1-3 0-0 2, Matteson 0-2 0-0 0, Briggs 5-10 3-4 17, Koehn 0-1 0-0, P. Whaler 4-13 0-2 9, Cooley 0-1 0-0 0, E. Whaler 2-2 0-2 4, B. Gonzalez 1-9 1-2 3. Totals 13-41 4-8 35.

3-point goals--Lakin 0-3 (Watkins 0-2, Simmons 0-1), Sublette 5-16 (Watson 0-2, Briggs 4-8, P. Whaler 1-6). Rebounds--Lakin 37 (Ritsema 12), Sublette 27 (P. Whaler 6). Turnovers--Lakin 24, Sublette 24. Fouls--Lakin 16, Sublette 14. Fouled out--none.