It was then that the Crusaders began to rally.
Caleb Littlejim sank a pull-up, baseline jumper and followed with a long 3-pointer that trimmed the Latta advantage to 44-41 with 4:08 to play.
After two missed free throws by Latta, Gabe Littlejim hit two free shots following a steal and layup attempt that made it 44-43 with 1:53 remaining.
Kade Hayes hit two big free throws for the Panthers with just 29.3 seconds remaining to make it 46-43. However, Wilson got wide open for a layup with 19.1 showing that again made it a one-point game to set up the exciting finish.
The Crusaders outscored Latta 12-6 in the fourth quarter.
“It seemed like we kind of played to keep from getting beat a little bit instead of trying to play to win. That will usually get you in trouble, but fortunately we were able to hang on and make something good happen,” Husband said.
Kessinger, who never missed, hit a trio of 3-pointers (his final as time was running out) during a huge 22-10 Latta second quarter that helped the Panthers turn an 11-6 deficit into a 28-21 lead at halftime.
“We didn’t play well early again, but we hung in there and played really good in the second quarter and pretty good in the third,” Husband said.
Kessinger’s 4-of-4 showing from beyond the arc gave him 12 points and his team a monumental boost off the bench.
“Every one of them were obviously big,” Husband said. “That’s a pretty nice option to have coming off the bench. He was big-time tonight. We’re not standing here with a win if he’s not on our team.”
Hayes finished with 14 points to lead Latta while Epperly contributed eight. Brady Johnson was next with seven points.
Caleb Littlejim led all scorers with 19 points for the Crusaders while Lindsey just missed double figures with nine points to go with seven rebounds. Gabe Littlejim added seven points and seven rebounds while Wilson finished with five points and eight rebounds off the bench. The much taller Crusaders won the rebounding battle 26-21.