Trailing 17-2 midway through the first quarter, and still down by 13 points at halftime, defending Class A champion Glencoe was starting to panic.
“Oh yeah, there was a ton of panic,” senior guard Jake Lazenby said.
But the second-ranked Panthers left the panic in the locker room after an extra-long halftime speech from coach John Lazenby. They opened the second half with a 19-1 run to take the lead, then held off third-ranked Weleetka for a thrilling 73-67 victory in the Class A semifinals Friday at State Fair Arena.
Brothers Jake and Ty Lazenby were clutch at the free throw line in the closing minutes, each finishing with 25 points. J.K. Hadlock added 12 points, including a late steal and bucket.
Weleetka made six of its first eight 3-point attempts, including three from Shaun Bencoma, to build the early lead, which peaked at 33-17 midway through the second quarter.
“This whole season, I don’t know if we’ve ever been down by more than two points,” Jake Lazenby said. “So this was totally different. We just had to keep chipping and playing Glencoe basketball.”
John Lazenby kept his team in the halftime locker room until about a minute before the third quarter started, trying to shake them loose from any negative attitudes that were still lingering.
“That’s the problem with being undefeated and not getting tested,” the coach said. “You get a little adversity and you start getting shook. And we did. We gave them a pretty good talking-to. I told them, ‘We’re down 13 and there’s 16 minutes of basketball left. Are you gonna throw up your skirts and give up?’
“We can be beat, but you’ve got to prove it to us. These kids are resilient. They don’t think they can be beat.”
In addition to the usual stars, Glencoe (28-0) got some needed baskets from unexpected sources, including Dylan Billingslea and Claytin Beaver, who also had three steals.
Weleetka had four scorers in double-figures, led by Jackson Frye with 20. He had two long 3-pointers in the final minute to keep the Outlaws within one possession. Bencoma had 17 points, Montana Gormly had 16 and Caleb Wittman had 12 for the Outlaws, who finished the season at 26-4.
Glencoe will play for its second consecutive gold ball against the Kiowa/Hollis winner in the Class A championship game at noon Saturday at State Fair Arena.