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February 25, 2014

Latta teams top Stratford twice

Latta — Even longtime Stratford bookkeeper Charley Burnett couldn’t believe what he watched during the Bulldogs’ Class 2A District Tournament matchup with No. 2 Latta Saturday night inside the new Latta Panther Fieldhouse.

Stratford was limited to just one point in the third quarter, and that cold spell proved to be the difference as the Panthers powered past the Bulldogs 53-36.

“I can’t remember one of our boys teams ever scoring just one point in a quarter,” Burnett said.

Latta improved to 21-4 on the year, while Stratford slipped to 16-8.

In the girls contest, Latta bolted to a 28-9 halftime lead and kept the pressure on in a convincing 62-28 win.

“It’s always nice to get that district tournament win, no matter how much you win by,” Latta head coach David Tinkler said.

The eighth-rated Latta girls improved to 18-7, while Stratford fell to 13-10.

BOYS

Latta 53, Stratford 36

Latta led 23-19 at halftime before outscoring the Bulldogs 15-1 in the huge third quarter that turned a close game into a rout.

“Our defensive pressure was a little better,” Latta head coach Donnie Husband said. “We pushed them out a little farther, and that made those entry passes a little harder to make.”

The Stratford offense went 0-for-8 from the field and made just one free throw (by Josh Waller at the 3:26 mark) during the eight-minute drought.

Kade Hayes scored on a fast break for Latta at the 5:30 mark — the first field goal of the quarter — and Panther post player Derek Epperly then hit back-to-back shots inside and converted a three-point play to extend the LHS lead to 30-19.

After Waller's free throw, Ryan Stockton drained a baseline jumper, Carter Kessinger sank a 3-pointer and Hayes scored again on a drive to the basket to put Latta on top 38-20 heading into the fourth quarter. Stratford got no closer than 16 the rest of the way.

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