LAKIN — It’s hard to imagine a better start to a game than a 12-0 run.
But that might pale in comparison to that same team losing that lead, yet still coming back to win in dramatic fashion.
That’s just what the Lakin Broncs did as they held off a tough Sublette Larks team, 49-43, on Tuesday night in Lakin.
As flashy as their opening run was, that’s how sedated their final quarter was as the Broncs converted 12 of its 14 free throws — the only ones they attempted in the entire game — in completing a comeback after letting the large early lead slip away.
After dominating the opening quarter, 16-7, Lakin found scoring scarce as a stingy Larks defense held it to just seven points in the second period and three in the third.
Lakin’s only points of that third quarter came on a Ryder Yakel 3-pointer with 3:23 left in the period.
Sublette went on a 8-0 run to take a 31-26 lead at 7:31 behind Nate Cearley’s only two field goals of the night.
Gabe Fletcher’s traditional 3-point play and Alex Perez’s trey briefly gave the Broncs the lead.
Sabastian Morales hit back-to-back field goals to put Sublette back into the lead for its final time, 35-34, with 4:20 to play. Fletcher got a put-back at 3:52 to give the Broncs a one-point lead.
Then the Broncs free-throw show took over as they hit 10 straight charities.
Fletcher’s third field goal of the period capped a 14-3 run to ice the game.
Yakel blocked a shot late that Pancho Klassen chased to the corner and threw off a Lark player’s leg to stop what could have been a huge play for Sublette.
A great start and finish, said coach Nate Schmidt.
“We got off to a great start. We were executing offensively, being aggressive offensively, and we were guarding,” he said.
They did a good job making free throws down the stretch, something they’ve done in all but one game thus far.
So what about the middle two quarters?
“We have to have guys that, when we get pressured, want the ball,” Schmidt said. “It’s amazing, in practice we go against six, seven, eight guys. That’s just an area we have to improve.”
The Broncs did not come back after halftime with the same intensity they showed in the first half, Schmidt said, coming out sluggish while Sublette was making big plays.
They also turned it over seven times when they strive to go the entire game with fewer than 10.
Ian Shelden had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards. Perez had 11 and Yakel 10 to pace the Broncs.
But it was Klassen’s hustle play near the end, and his tight defense on Cearly all night, that impressed Schmidt the most.
“He held Cearley to four points (his season average is 14) and made the play of the game,” he said. “He sacrifices his body, we get the ball and go down and make two free throws. He was definitely player of the game for us.”
On the other side, first-year coach Aaron Ardis was proud of his team’s effort, even in the loss.
After starting the season 3-0, they have dropped two, including the title game Saturday to South Gray in the Cimarron Bluejay Invitational.
Take away the opening four minutes, and the Larks had a good game.
“It was a very frustrating start to the game. I don’t think we were mentally or physically ready to play, and Lakin is too good of a team to take that approach on,” Ardis said. “I really challenged the team at timeouts and halftime — probably as extreme a challenge as you can give a group of young kids.”
Their response to his challenge was what he wanted.
“They came out with desire and playing like they had something to prove,” he said. “I’m proud of them for that. If we had taken that approach from the start, it could have been a much different game.”
Ardis had his team start in a man defense but switched to a solid zone that changed the tone of play and the momentum.
“It was a matter of heart. They could have easily folded against a team like that, but they didn’t,” Ardis said.
This was a tough loss, he added, but they had a number of positives to take from it, especially with a new coach and system.
Andrew Lower led the Larks with 11 points, and Morales added 10.
Sublette (3-2) will face Satanta Friday while Lakin (3-3) is off until January.
Sublette (3-2)—Whaler 1 0-2 3, Lower 4 3-4 11, Stapleton 1 0-0 2, Hinkle 4 0-0 9, Morales 4 0-3 10, Cunefare 2 0-0 4, Cearly 2 0-0 4, Massey 1 0-0 2. Totals 18-42 3-9 43.
Lakin (3-3)—Perez 2 5-6 11, Shelden 5 2-3 13, Fletcher 3 1-1 7, Yakel 3 2-2 10, Klassen 3 2-2 8. Totals 16-44 12-14 49.
Sublette 7 6 16 14 — 43
Lakin 16 7 3 23 — 49
3-point goals—Sublette 4-12 (Whaler, Hinkle, Morales 2), Lakin 5-12 (Perez 2, Shelden, Yakel 2). Rebounds—Sublette 16 (Cearly 3, Lower 3), Lakin 30 (Shelden 14). Fouls—Sublette 18, Lakin 11. Technical fouls—none.