In recent years, the Latta-Byng rivalry hasn’t just been one of the most intense in the state — it’s also been one of the most competitive. Friday night’s doubleheader at the Bill Johnson Field House continued that trend.
Dayton Hendricks drained a go-ahead 3-pointer and two free throws in the final 58 seconds as Byng rallied to win the girls game, 40-38, then the Latta boys erased a five-point halftime deficit and won their fourth in a row, 44-39, in the nightcap behind Reed Johnson’s 19 points.
Byng 40, Latta 38
Byng (2-0) trailed 33-28 with 3:30 to play, but the Lady Pirates got a couple of key turnovers down the stretch to finally rally past the stubborn Lady Panthers. Hendricks cut the deficit to 38-36 when she hit one of two free throws with 58 seconds left, and after a Latta turnover, her 3-pointer from the right wing with 28 seconds remaining put the Lady Pirates ahead for good at 39-38.
After Latta’s 18th turnover of the game gave the ball back to the Lady Pirates, Hendricks was fouled and again hit one of two free throws with just 14 seconds left. Latta sophomore Shelby Parnacher was off the mark on a long shot for the Lady Panthers in the final seconds.
Byng led 16-15 at intermission, but Latta (2-3) carried a 27-24 lead to the final period. The Lady Panthers hit 14 field goals (in 36 attempts) to 13 (in 29 tries) for Byng and drained three of nine 3-pointers to just 1-of-5 for the visitors, but the Lady Pirates were 13-for-23 from the free throw line while Latta was a dismal 7-for-17, including 3-for-10 in the fourth quarter.
“Latta outplayed us for three and a half quarters,” Byng coach Matt Fike said. “They did a real good job of taking us out of everything we wanted to do. They controlled the tempo and outworked us.
“The difference in the game was we forced some turnovers and hit some shots down the stretch,” he added. “We were fortunate to win. Credit Dayton Hendricks for stepping up when we needed her. She was clutch.”
Center Presli Manuel scored a game-high 14 points while Hendricks and sophomore Raetchel Gray added nine apiece for Byng, which will host Bethel (No. 2 in Class 3A) Tuesday. Teagan Tully scored nine points, Kaitlin Hisaw added eight points and five of Latta’s 12 steals, and Chelsea Ellenberg had a game-high eight rebounds to go with four points in the loss.
“We just had too many hiccups,” Latta coach David Tinkler said. “We had ample chances, but we just couldn’t put it away. We did a lot of good things but we did some other things that dearly cost us.”
Latta will entertain Konawa (No. 11 in Class 2A) Tuesday.
Latta 44, Byng 39
Johnson scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half, and sophomore guard Trent Storts hit a big 3-pointer and added a couple of assists in the final minutes for the Panthers, who trailed 25-20 at intermission and 29-28 heading to the fourth quarter.
“We just finally made some shots,” Latta coach Donnie Husband said after seeing his club (No. 19 in 2A) improve to 4-1. “Both teams struggled to score the whole game.
“It was one of those games we can learn from,” he added. “It was a good win against a really good defensive team. Byng did a great job of taking some things away and controlling the tempo, but we just kept grinding. This is the kind of game we’ve lost the last couple of years, but the kids kept fighting and found a way to win.”
In addition to his game-high scoring total, Johnson added six rebounds to share team honors with senior center Dylan Tinkler and sophomore Jake Collins. Tinkler scored 11 points to finish in double figures for the fourth time in five games and added three steals, and fellow senior Heston Bush — who had a career-high 23 points in Tuesday’s win over Bethel — scored four of his five points down the stretch for the Panthers.
Latta hit 16-of-43 shots overall but was just 3-for-12 from beyond the arc, while Byng (0-2) finished 16-for-42 overall but only 1-for-6 from long range.
Although junior Tate O’Grady scored 17 points and Austin Williamson added nine in the loss, the Pirates’ big men — senior Ryan Williams and junior Eli Bailey — combined for just 11 points. Like the girls game, the boys contest might have been decided at the free throw line, where Latta hit 9-of-12 and Byng was just 6-for-14.
“I thought we played really well defensively,” Byng coach Trent Miller said. “Austin and Tate played well, but we have to get better at some other spots. Latta’s a really good team, and we got better as a team tonight.”