Brian Johnson Special Correspondent
The Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic is always a good barometer for participating teams.
It’s no different for Latta Head Coach David Tinkler, who brings his unbeaten Lady Panthers into the prestigious and historic tournament, hosted by Vision Bank, against Cheyenne-Reydon in a first-round matchup on Thursday, Dec. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.
“Hopefully this will bring out the best in us. Hopefully we’ll rise to the occasion,” said Tinkler.
“This type of tournament lets you know where you’re at. My kids are anxious and happy about the opportunity to play. Everybody is a state tournament-type team.”
Last year, all eight squads qualified for state tournaments in their respective classes and two – Sulphur and Georgetown, Texas – captured state championships.
In fact, those two teams squared off in the Mid-America Classic finals as Sulphur won the championship and Georgetown settled for runner-up.
Latta’s 7-0 start to the season is good enough for them to achieve a No. 6 spot in Class 2A of the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association rankings.
Cheyenne-Reydon is ranked No. 1 in Class A with a perfect 10-0 record.
“Last year, they were in the state finals and are ranked No. 1 right now. They are very athletic, well-coached and well-disciplined,” Tinkler said.
The Lady Panthers are fresh off playing one of the Mid-America participants, a 53-49 home victory over Class 3A 12th-ranked Tishomingo on Tuesday.
Shelbey Parnacher’s 14 points, including three 3-pointers, led the Latta effort and Taryn Wood finished with 11 points.
“Win or lose we could run into Tishomingo again,” said Tinkler.
The Latta-Cheyenne winner will face the Tishomingo-Shawnee victor on Friday, Dec. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The losers of those two games will meet that same day at 4:30 p.m.
The Tishomingo-Shawnee first-round game is set for Thursday, Dec. 26, at 4:30 p.m. Shawnee is No. 1 in Class 5.
Other first-round games, on the other side of the bracket, on Thursday include defending champion and Class 3A No. 15 Sulphur against 4A No. 3 Mount St. Mary at 3 p.m. and 4A No. 7 Ada against Class B No. 3 Lomega at 8 p.m.