BYNG — If the new-look Byng Pirates were trying to make a statement in their rivalry showdown with Latta Friday night, they got their message across loud and clear.

Nine different Pirates scored at least two points, and Byng dominated the Panthers (No. 6 in Class 2A) defensively and on the boards in a shocking 55-35 blowout that was clearly the exception rather than the rule in a series dominated by nail-biters in recent years.

“Any time you win against Latta, it’s a quality win,” said second-year Byng coach Trent Miller after seeing his club — which lost, 47-44, to Class 5A power Durant in Tuesday’s season opener — improve to 1-1. “You have to be pleased with a win like that.”

Latta tied the game just once — at 2-2 on a jumper by Steven Reed with 6:53 left in the first quarter — but never led, and the Panthers (3-2) couldn’t get closer than six points after new Byng point guard Jared Walker grabbed a steal and hit a layup at the other end to put the Pirates up 12-5 midway through the opening period.

As expected, Byng’s veteran front line of seniors Nathan Turtle and Caleb Timmons and junior Dakota Abbott made life difficult for Latta’s 6-6 senior center Jeremi Correll, who hit just one of his first eight shots and finished with season lows in points (7) and rebounds (4) after averaging a double-double through four games.

“Caleb Timmons did a great job on Jeremi Correll,” Miller said. “He played him straight up all night long.”

The Pirates also outrebounded the Panthers, 37-19, with Turtle (13 rebounds) and Abbot (9) combining for more rebounds than the entire Latta squad. With Correll and their inside game neutralized, the Panthers tried to score from the outside, but they were just 2-for-9 from 3-point range. Although freshman Reed Johnson continued his solid early-season play with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, the rest of the Latta lineup was a combined 10-for-36, and the Byng guards — led by Walker and senior Glen Mitchell — surprisingly dominated the Panthers’ backcourt.

“Glen’s just better this year,” Miller said of Mitchell (a role player last season on a 16-9 team dominated by the scoring of senior guards Ryan Haynes and Jordan Parnacher), who had a game-high 15 points (on 6-of-7 shooting), four rebounds, two steals and two assists Friday. “He worked hard all summer, and it showed tonight.”

Walker, who replaced Haynes at the point for Byng this season, was off to a hot start with seven first-quarter points when he picked up his second foul less than six minutes into the game. He was replaced by Sentro Burns, who also did a solid job of running the offense and hit his only two shots while splitting time with Walker the rest of the way.

“Jared did a good job, then Sentro came in and played well,” Miller said. “All of my kids work hard to prepare themselves for nights like this.”

Nine of Byng’s 22 baskets came at the end of fast-break opportunities, and the Pirates were a solid 5-for-9 from 3-point range, with five different players connecting from beyond the arc. Mitchell was the only Pirate in double figures, but Turtle had eight, Walker and Abbott scored seven apiece, Timmons had six and Burns added five.

After Mitchell rebounded a Wacey Henderson miss and banked in a short jumper at the other end to put Byng on top 18-5 with 2:17 left in the opening quarter, the Pirates settled for an 18-11 lead heading to the second when Latta scored the final six points in the period.

A free throw by Panther point guard Dalton Brown cut the lead to six with 6:36 left in the half before Byng scored the next six points — on a Mitchell fast-break layup, a 3-pointer by Burns off an Abbott feed and a free throw by Timmons — to extend the lead to 24-12. Latta eventually made it a seven-point game again (26-19) on a 3-pointer by Johnson with 20 seconds left in the half, but Byng’s Dylan Hendricks drained a 3-pointer (his only shot of the game) in the closing seconds to make it 29-19 at the break.

Turtle’s layup off a dish from Walker just 44 seconds into the second half put Byng back in front by a dozen, then the Pirates scored just one point over the next 5:43 and Latta trimmed the lead to 32-25 on a Brown drive to the basket with two minutes left in the quarter.

Timmons took a bullet pass from Mitchell and hit a layup 27 seconds after Brown’s basket, and, after Johnson rebounded his own missed 3-pointer and drained a baseline jumper to again make it a seven-point game at the 1:09 mark, Mitchell finished a fast break with a layup that became a conventional 3-point play when he was fouled by Johnson on his drive to the basket. Abbott then grabbed a rebound and hit a 3-pointer at the other end at the buzzer to send the Pirates to the fourth quarter with a 40-27 lead.

Two Abbott free throws to cap a four-shot Byng possession with 7:40 left in the game extended the Pirates’ advantage to 15 points, then Latta scored six straight points over the next two minutes — on a spinning left-handed layup by Henderson and a pair of layups by Correll (his first baskets since the first quarter) — to again cut the Byng lead to single digits. The Panthers managed just two free throws the rest of the way, however, and the Pirates — after turning the ball over on four straight possessions in the span of two minutes — hit six of their last eight shots over the final 4:34 to seal the win.

Byng and Latta will both be on the road Tuesday, with the Pirates and Lady Pirates visiting Bethel and the Panthers and Lady Panthers traveling to Konawa.

This Week's Circulars