Jeff Cali Sports Editor email@example.com
Latta — Much has been said about a Latta Lady Panthers’ defense that has allowed just a hair over 30 points per game this season. But Latta’s offense was efficiently good Saturday night.
No. 8 Latta shot 46 percent from the field and got 13 points each from Shelbey Parnacher and Krisha Young and breezed past No. 17 Rush Springs 55-43 in a Class 2A Regional championship contest.
Latta improved to 20-7 heading into a 2A Area championship showdown with No. 5 Cordell Friday night inside Byng’s Bill Koller Fieldhouse. The Lady Redskins (21-4) fell into consolation play and will meet Calera Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Byng.
Latta head man David Tinkler admitted his team is a tough matchup for anyone when it can put points on the board. The Lady Panthers hit 19-of-41 field goals against Rush Springs.
“No doubt about it. We only give up around 30 a game. If we can score that many points, we feel pretty good about it,” he said. “We had a little bit of trouble getting in sync ... but my little guards found gaps to penetrate in. When we did run our offense, we got good shots.”
The Lady Panthers built early leads of 15-8 and 20-12 before Jacy Cullens of Rush Springs hit four unanswered free throws to get the Lady Redskins within 20-16 at the 4:54 mark of the second quarter.
Latta would end the quarter on an 11-4 run to grab a 31-20 lead at halftime. Laramie Edens scored six of her eight points during that span, including the final four points of the quarter.
Krisha Young and Nelania Baker combined for a 7-0 Latta run that pushed the lead to 38-22 at the 4:58 mark of the third quarter.
Cullens, who finished with a game-high 19 points, hit back-to-back baskets late in the quarter to get Rush Springs within 42-30.
The Lady Redskins would then open the fourth period with a 9-4 run to cut their deficit to 48-39 with 4:26 to play, but Rush Springs would get no closer.
After Young and Baker hit back-to-back baskets, Latta held a comfortable 52-39 lead with just under two minutes to play.
Parnacher’s totals included a 3-of-4 showing from beyond the arc. Young went 7-of-8 from the free throw line and had four rebounds and three takeaways.
Baker would finish with a solid all-around game that included nine points, eight rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.
Jordan Brooks was the only other Rush Springs player to reach double figures, ending with 10 points.
Latta’s defense forced 21 turnovers, came up withy 17 steals — including five by Parnacher and four by Taryn Wood — and eight blocked shots.
Now, the Lady Panthers find themselves needed just one win in two tries to claim a berth in the Class 2A State Tournament.
“That’s what you play for. You put yourself in a position where you can win and go play the week after. I wish we could play Monday,” he said Saturday night. “I’m ready. But they’re going to make us wait and play Friday.”
Cordell is certainly no stranger to the Lady Panthers. The Lady Blue Devils singlehandedly ended Latta’s season a year ago.
“Cordell’s a fine ballclub. They have pretty much the same team they had last year with the exception of their point guard. They play well together and do things right,” Tinkler said. “They beat me handily in the first round of the regional tournament (last year) and then they beat me by one in the area tournament.”
Tinkler said last year’s early exit could provide a little extra motivation for his team Friday night.
“Especially to those girls that played in those two games,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it. We’re glad to be in this position.”