Jeff Cali Sports Editor email@example.com
Latta — The Latta boys’ inside-outside attack finally got rolling in the second half, allowing the Panthers to pull away from Konawa for a 51-25 win Tuesday night inside the new Latta Panther Fieldhouse.
The Panthers, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, improved to 15-3 on the year while Konawa fell to 9-7.
The Latta girls started the sweep by racing past the Lady Tigers 61-16. The Lady Panthers (No. 8 in Class 2A) improved to 13-5 while Konawa slipped to 6-10.
Now they get to do it all over again. Tuesday’s matchup was a makeup date from a Dec. 10 meeting that was canceled due to weather. Latta travels to Konawa on Friday in a regularly scheduled matchup.
Latta boys coach Donnie Husband said he looks forward to tangling with Konawa head man Gordon Garner and his Tigers again.
“You kind of hate it in some ways, but in a lot of ways I like it. I think coach Garner’s the best. He’s gonna make some adjustments and whatever he does is going to make us better somewhere on down the road,” he said. “I enjoy playing them. They’ve been really good, and I think they’re coming on to be good again. He makes us a better team and makes me a better coach. I like playing against him.”
Latta 51, Konawa 25
The Panthers appeared determined to get the ball to their post players early in the contest and the Tigers kept Latta out of the paint for a while.
In fact, Latta led just 9-4 after a low-scoring first quarter. And after Brady Johnson buried a 3-pointer to start the second, Konawa answered with a conventional three-point play from Kix Walker — who pumped faked his man, drew the foul and made a basket inside — to stay with 12-7.
“We didn’t do a very good job of that early. I think the best way to play basketball was from the inside out — whether it’s driving it in there and kicking it out or throwing it in there,” Husband said.
Latta junior center Zac Albert came off the bench and scored four points, sandwiched around a steal and layup by Johnson. That 6-0 surge gave Latta its first double-digit lead at 18-7.
Treston Tully hit a short fadeaway and turned it into a three-point play 2.4 seconds before halftime to give Latta a 21-9 lead at the break.
Konawa stayed within striking distance for most of the third quarter. Silas Larney scored a fast-break basket to make it 27-17 and a conventional three-point play by Zach Snow kept the Tigers within 31-20 at the 2:05 mark of the third period.
Kade Hayes followed with a 3-pointer that started a 12-0 Latta spree that effectively put the game out of reach. Albert scored four more points during the run that ended with a shot from long range by Carter Kessinger that made it 43-20.
“I think both of us were a little flat at times, but I think in the end our experience came through a little bit,” Husband said. “We stayed patient and kept working and some good things started happening for us.”
Albert and starting big man Derek Epperly would score 10 points points each. Albert finished 4-for-4 from the line and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.
“I thought Zac Albert came off the bench and gave us a spark. The other guys got some confidence to throw it in there, and he did a great job of showing Derek that we could score down in there. Derek was more aggressive in the second half. He was posting hard and catching the passes, and we probably made them on time a little better,” Husband said.
Johnson led all scorers with 12 points in Latta’s balanced attack. Tully just missed double digits with nine.
Larney and Walker scored seven points apiece for Konawa. The Panthers bottled up Konawa leader Snow, who had six points to go with six rebounds.
“I have the utmost respect for Zach Snow and how good he is. We tried to attack him a little bit defensively and make it a little tougher on him on the offensive end,” Husband said.
Latta 61, Konawa 16
The Lady Panthers used a suffocating defense to keep the Konawa offense shut down. Latta scored the first 10 points of the game and led 17-1 before Danielle Khoury hit the first Konawa field goal of the game at the 6:55 mark of the second quarter.
After a 3-pointer by Krisha Young with 1:04 left in the second quarter, Latta led 25-3. The Lady Tigers hit just one of their first 13 field goals and had committed 14 of their 30 turnovers by halftime.
The Lady Panthers exploded for 24 points in the third quarter and outscored Konawa 12-2 over the final eight minutes.
Konawa had no answer for Latta post player Nelaina Baker, who scored 17 points (one point more than the entire Konawa team) and grabbed six rebounds. Young added 13 points and four steals for Latta while Shelbey Parnacher followed with 11 points and three takeaways.
Khoury and Kamry Walker scored five points each for the Lady Tigers.