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Dragons winning streak snapped by Vikings

Posted 12/20/2018

Lakin Farmer upsets the Cardinals’ defense as he goes for a lay-up for Halstead, last Tuesday night against Sedgwick.  Lakin Farmer upsets the Cardinals’ defense as he goes for a lay-up for Halstead, last Tuesday night against Sedgwick. By Jared Janzen

HALSTEAD—It was déjà vu for the Halstead boys basketball team, last Friday, as, for the second year in a row, they experienced their first loss of the season to Smoky Valley in a neck-and-neck contest. The Dragons lost in overtime, 43-46.

“We showed some signs of where we’re at, in terms of experience,” head coach, Lonnie Lollar said.

In 2017, the Dragons fell to Smoky Valley, 48-49. Friday’s loss snaps the Dragons’ 18-game winning streak, dating back to last year’s Rupp Tournament, when Halstead lost to Cheney, 52-61, which was the team’s only other loss, last season.

Halstead started out well against Smoky Valley with an 8-2 lead, establishing a good pace of the game, Lollar said. But the Vikings came back within one point by the end of the first quarter, 11-10. Halstead maintained a slight edge, 25-24 at halftime and 32-30 heading into the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Halstead’s only points were four free throws by senior Braden Gerber and a basket by senior Andrew O’Brien. Smoky Valley, meanwhile, scored a three, a basket and two free throws to send the game into overtime at 37-all.

“I don’t think we ever had the lead in overtime,” Lollar said. “We had some kids, who haven’t been in that situation before.”

During overtime, Halstead found themselves in foul trouble, early on. In fact, all nine of the Vikings’ points in overtime came from free throws, whereas Halstead scored three’s from O’Brien and sophomore Lakin Farmer. Down 43-46, Halstead had no time outs remaining and couldn’t pull off the win.

“We need to do a better job of manufacturing free throw opportunities,” Lollar said. The team shot six of ten from the line, but only four of these attempts came after halftime. Smoky Valley was 13 of 20 in free throws.

Gerber led the Dragon offense with 18 points, followed by Farmer with eight and O’Brien with seven.

Lollar said Smoky Valley had done a good job of guarding O’Brien, all night, but like a true team, other Dragons had stepped up in his place.

Also scoring for Halstead were Kaden Kraus and Josh Talbott, with three, apiece and David Schulte and Lane Pitts, with two, apiece.

“Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes so it doesn’t happen again,” Lollar said.

Last Tuesday, Halstead defeated Sedgwick, 63-46.

“Offensively we did pretty well,” Lollar said. “Sedgwick is a talented team.”

Halstead 26-22 at halftime and Lollar said his team had done a good job of playing unselfishly and moving the ball around. He praised Talbott and Schulte with sparking the team’s defensive energy.

O’Brien led the team with 23 points and Gerber posted 13. Also scoring were Kraus and Schulte, with eight, Talbott, with six and Farmer, with five. The team was four of eight from the line and made 11 three-pointers.

“It was probably our best all-around game, so far,” Lollar said. “Our team is still learning how to play varsity. I’ve seen improvement in everybody on the team, but we are pretty young. We only have three guys with experience at state.”

He added that Kraus had done a tremendous job of fighting that game, even though he’s not 100 percent yet, following a surgery over the summer.

Halstead faced Mulvane on Tuesday night in their final game before Christmas break. Although Mulvane had a 1-5 record, Lollar said he expected them to be a competitive team, since they’d played a tough schedule, so far.

“They’re better than their record shows,” he said.

For more coverage of Halstead sports, please see this week's print edition.