SUBLETTE — Sublette coach Andrea Ardery had been waiting a few days to see her team get back on track.
After dropping two games in the championship bracket of the Cimarron tournament last weekend, her Larks needed a boost.
After a sluggish start Tuesday night, they got such a boost as they overcame an early deficit to take out Lakin, 52-41.
Lakin got off to a hot 13-2 start, thanks in large part to freshman Jaya Esquibel’s nine points.
Then Sublette’s Mia Kells and Mercedes Martinez scored their team’s final seven points to close the gap to 16-10 at the first break.
Kells’ basket with five seconds left in the half tied the game at 23, and then the Larks went on two scoring streaks that saw their lead rise to 41-32 after three periods.
Bekah Unruh scored 10 of the team’s 18 in that period on her way to 18 for the game.
Kells finished with 16 points and Martinez 10.
Esquibel led all scorers with 22 points. Jennifer Crum added seven for Lakin.
Ardery was hard-pressed to explain her team’s slow start as it contrasted so greatly from the way they finished, but the next three periods made up for that.
“In our tournament in Cimarron Invitational, we put together two good quarters,” she said. “To put three good quarters together tonight was an improvement for us.”
Part of her team’s early woes she credits to Lakin.
“They’re a pretty salty basketball team, and they’re pretty young,” she said.
Lakin was able to hit shots early and often, and just when Sublette closed to within 13-10 on a Martinez three with seven seconds to play, Esquibel answered with a three at the buzzer.
But her team’s turnaround to dominate much of the rest of the game was the answer to the Lakin firepower. The Broncs converted just 11 field goals out of 39 attempts the rest of the way.
“I don’t know what the explanation for that (the turnaround) except that we get a fire in our belly, I guess,” Ardery said. “We move better on defense, and that defense transitions to movement on offense and gets our motor going, I guess.”
After four turnovers in the first quarter that led seven of Lakin’s points, Sublette finished with just 12 for the entire game, another key to the turnaround.
“Twelve is a lot less than we’ve been averaging,” Ardery said. “That’s been a point of emphasis is to value the ball. I know early in the first we were turning it over left and right, so maybe cleaning that up contributed to our run.”
After four straight games on the road, it was also nice to play at home, she added.
“You could hear our fans in the stands, so it was good to be back and get our fan base behind us,” Ardery said. “We feed off that all the time.”
Sublette (2-3) might be able to take that home base with them on the road Friday when they travel down the road to Satanta to close out December play.
For first-year coach and former Lakin player, the loss was indicative of the start of the season as her team looks for its first win against five losses.
“We started off really well, but then we get to a point where I think they think ‘we’re really comfortable now,’ and we let them back in,” she said.
Lakin started two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior, so her lineup is young, but she likes what they bring, she said.
Her freshman shooter, who stands just 5-2, hit for six two-pointers and three treys. “She’s not afraid to shoot,” Esquibel said. “If they get her the ball, she’ll shot because she’s not afraid to shoot.”
Lakin (0-5) will wrap up its December campaign at home Friday when they host Stanton County in a Throwback Night with the game played in the old high school gym.