Latta — After Latta’s Derek Epperly missed the second of two free throws with 12.4 seconds left in the game, the Panthers were clinging to a two-point lead over Christian Heritage Academy during a tense Class 2A Regional Tournament championship game Saturday night inside the Latta Panther Fieldhouse.
The Crusaders — out of timeouts — hurried the ball down the court. Colton Lindsey took the ball at the top of the key, drove down the lane dished the ball to a wide open Micah Wilson on the right side of the basket. Wilson tossed up the shot, the ball rolled around the rim for what seemed like forever before falling off the side of the rim as time expired, allowing Latta to hold on for the heart-pounding 47-45 win.
The second-ranked Panthers improved to 23-4 on the year and advance to Friday night’s 2A Area Tournament championship in Byng while No. 15 Christian Heritage Academy will ender the area tournament’s consolation bracket at 22-4.
“I was already smelling overtime, I tell you,” said Latta head coach Donnie Husband when asked about the close call at the end. “Usually if you don’t hit free throws in that situation, you put yourself in a bind. It’s a little easier to defend the 3-point line in that situation than it is to defend the two. We put ourselves in a tough situation but sometimes if you work hard things fall your way. Hopefully, we didn’t use it all up tonight.”
Latta led 41-33 heading into the fourth quarter before having to hang on for dear life in the end.
Lindsey converted an old fashioned three-point play to open the fourth, but sharpshooting Latta sophomore Carter Kessinger buried his fourth 3-pointer of the game at the 5:30 mark to again give Latta an eight-point bulge at 44-36.