By CONOR NICHOLL
The Lakin girls’ basketball team opened 0-3 with all losses coming at the Goodland Topside Tipoff from Dec. 10-12. Lakin fell to Dodge City in its season opener. DC remains undefeated and ranked No. 8 in 6A. The Broncs lost by 11 to Colby and 12 to Holcomb.
Since then, Lakin has pulled off four straight victories behind 5-foot-2 senior Jaya Esquibel, the returning Hi-Plains League Player of the Year. This marks Lakin’s longest winning streak in nearly six years.
Lakin had won 16 total games from ’16-19 before a 10-11 season last winter. The Broncs went 11-9 in ’14-15 and 12-11 in ’15-16. Lakin has its longest winning streak since a five-victory run from Jan. 22 to Feb. 3, 2015.
Lakin beat Stanton County, 42-39, on Dec. 18 in the last game before holiday break. Then, the Broncs defeated Wichita County, 60-32, on Jan. 9 and beat Holcomb, 67-57, in a Jan. 12 rematch.
Lakin defeated Syracuse, 39-26, on Jan. 15. The girls will be the No. 2 seed in the league tournament this week. Lakin is expected to play one-win Sublette in the first round of the tournament Monday.
Against Holcomb in the Jan. meeting, Esquibel tallied 35 points and scored her 1,000th career point. She shot 11 of 22 from the field and 5 of 6 from long range in the Holcomb win. Lakin was 6 of 7 overall from 3-point range in the Holcomb win.
In the Holcomb loss, Lakin finished 4 of 20 from 3-point range, including 3 of 9 from Esquibel. She tallied a team-high 11 points against Syracuse. Lakin delivered a 16-4 edge in the fourth quarter.
Lakin coach Vanessa Esquibel is Jaya’s aunt. At Goodland, Hunter Davis, Dom Daniels and Esquibel earned all-tournament team honors. Last season, Esquibel delivered 17.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, three assists and 2.5 steals a game.
As a sophomore, Esquibel had 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and two steals a game. Plus, Lakin has key seniors Tiana Gonzalez and Talyn Beltran this year. Lakin has tallied 0.79 points per possession. Overall, Esquibel has 19.6 points per contest.
Gonzalez and Beltran each has 7.4 points per game, and sophomore Taegan Bachman has 6.1 points a contest. Esquibel has 3.1 assists per game. Bachman has delivered 2.3 steals and Esquibel 2.1 steals a contest. Beltran has 4.6 rebounds a contest.
The Lakin boys, featured on SIK last season and this winter, have continued another impressive season with coach Nate Schmitt. Lakin is 8-0 and ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, and fifth for all classes by MaxPreps’ statistical rankings. Schmitt stands at 92-48 with Lakin, known for its high-paced, full court pressing style.
Lakin has averaged 73.5 points per contest. That included a 69-66 win versus Holcomb on Jan. 12, and 75-52 versus Syracuse on Jan. 15. Holcomb and Syracuse are a combined 15-0 when not playing Lakin.
Davis, one of the state’s best players, has 20.4 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds a game. Daniels has delivered 11.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. Allen Martinez has stepped up with 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals a game. Servando Gonzalez has 13.9 points and 3.3 rebounds.
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