Stratford had the early upper hand, grabbing a 12-7 lead after a 3-pointer by Jon Golden at the 3:47 mark of the first quarter.
After a time out, Latta got a jumper in the lane by Brady Johnson, a steal and layup by Hayes and a leaner in the lane from Brogan Cantrell that gave the hosts a slim 13-12 lead heading into the second period.
Trailing 18-14 after a 3-pointer by Johnson, Stratford scored five straight points — capped by a putback from Brenton Willingham after a steal by Golden — that gave the Bulldogs a 19-18 lead.
Latta regained the lead after a 3-pointer by Treston Tully and a bucket by Johnson to end the first half.
Hayes finished with 13 points to lead a balanced Latta offense. Tully and Epperly both scored 10, while Johnson and Kessinger added seven points apiece. Epperly pulled down nine rebounds, while Tully and Hayes had three steals each.
Cade Savage finished with six points, 10 rebounds and two steals to pace Stratford. Golden hit a pair of 3-pointers to total six for the Bulldogs, while Waller and Willingham added five points apiece.
The Panthers advance to meet No. 20 Wewoka in a 2A Regional winner’s bracket contest Thursday night at the Latta Panther Fieldhouse, while Stratford battles local rival Konawa in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Latta 62, Stratford 28
The Lady Panthers delivered the final knockout blow by outscoring Stratford 24-5 in the third quarter to watch their lead balloon to 52-14 heading into the fourth period.
“I’m proud of our girls for playing hard the entire time. They never quit,” said Stratford head coach Jason Fulks.
Shelbey Parnacher led Latta with 12 points, while Laramie Edens and Sydney Brinlee scored 10 points each. Nelania Baker and Taryn Wood contributed seven points each to the LHS attack.
Cheyenne Weast scored 12 points to pace the Lady Bulldogs, who were limited to just five field goals in the contest but made 18-of-23 free-throw attempts. Weast finished 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.