The injury bug has taken a bite out of the Latta girls’ offensive playbook early this season. So head coach David Tinkler had decided his team needs to get it done on defense.
That’s exactly what the Lady Panthers did in their home-opener against Roff Friday night inside the Bill Johnson Field House.
Latta limited Roff to just eight first-half field goal attempts and just 17 overall while forcing a whopping 38 turnovers in a 60-27 victory.
“We’ve kinda had to change some things with some injuries we have, and I didn’t know if it was going to be good or bad. I told them e have to get up and play more aggressive and work harder on defense,” Tinkler explained. “We’re not there yet, but these kids will run through a wall for you. Every one of them have hearts of lions. We’ve worked really hard defensively. I’m pleased with what they’re doing, and I hope we can keep getting better.”
In the boys’ game, Latta had too many weapons for Roff to contend with in a 57-39 win.
Latta 60, Roff 27
Despite 19 first-half turnovers, Roff stayed within striking distance throughout the first 16 minutes. In fact, Roff scored the first five points of the game on a 3-pointer from Lauren Trimmer and a steal and layup by J.J. Stewart.
After six straight Latta points, Roff took its last lead of the game at 7-6 on a fast-break basket by Jordan Grinstead at the 2:08 mark of the opening period. Latta responded by outscoring Roff 7-1 over the final 1:32 of the quarter to build a 13-8 lead. Kortney West started the surge with a 3-pointer and ended it with a steal and layup at the buzzer.
Casey Kelley scored the first basket of the second quarter to get Roff within three, but Latta used a 10-3 surge to grab its first double-digit advantage at 23-13. West closed out that Latta run with a 3-pointer and a putback 15 seconds apart. She would finished with 12 points for the hosts.
Roff didn’t have and answer for Latta’s 5-11 senior post player Chelsea Ellenburg, who hit her first seven field goal attempts, finished with a game-high 16 points — 12 of which game in the first half. Her putback at the end of the second quarter gave Latta a 27-15 halftime edge.
“She’s got a little pressure on her, and I told her that. I need her to step up and play like a big girl, especially since I lost Keeli (Kessinger, who tore an ACL the first day of practice) and Madison (Snowden) is slowed right now (with a knee injury of her own),” Tinkler said. “She’s getting better. It was good to see her be aggressive last night.”
Latta put the game away with a 10-0 run to open the third quarter to forge a 37-15 lead. Kaitlin Hisaw had four points during the run and was one of four Lady Panthers who hit double digits in a balanced LHS attack. She finished with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Freshman Shelbey Parnacher scored nine of her 11 points in a 13-0 run that ended the third quarter and stretched to the 6:48 mark of the final period that gave Latta a 54-21 bulge. Parnacher keyed the Lady Panthers’ dizzying defensive effort with 10 steals for a unique double-double.
“She’s an aggressive kid. She can get after it,” Tinkler said. “There’s not a go-to or a superstar on this team. Night in, and night out it could be a different one.”
Latta 57, Roff 39
Latta standout Reed Johnson scored a game-high 25 points to go with nine rebounds and five steals and always seemed to make a big play to keep Roff at bay.
With the game tied at 8-8 late in the first quarter, Johnson scored the final four points of the period on two free throws and a strong move along the baseline.
He capped a 10-2 run early in the second period with two more free throws that made it 22-12. Kade Hayes delivered the two big blows during the run with a pair of 3-pointers. His third 3-pointer of the period came at the 2:46 mark and extended Latta’s lead to 25-14. Those nine points were Hayes’ only of the game.
Johnson delivered another dagger for the Panthers with a 3-pointer with time running out in the first half that gave Latta a 30-16 advantage.
Brendan Barr, who continued is solid play for Roff with 16 points and 11 rebounds — hit a short jumper midway through the third quarter that got the Tigers within 13 at 35-22. But the Panthers went on a 15-5 run — that included eight points from Johnson — that put the game out of reach at 50-27 with 6:49 to play.
Chad Bigham also had a strong game for the Panthers with 12 points.
Tim Wallen matched Barr with 16 points for Roff, including four 3-pointers but the Tigers got just seven points from the rest of the team.
Latta hosts Vanoss Tuesday during Coaches vs. Cancer night while Roff entertains Dale on Tuesday.