During its current five-game winning streak, the Latta Panthers have had to pass a few fourth-quarter tests. The Roff Tigers gave them their toughest test to date Tuesday night inside the Latta Panther Fieldhouse.
With the game hanging in the balance, Latta senior Kade Hayes hit two 3-pointers and the Panthers shut out Roff in the final three minutes of a tense 45-37 victory over the Tigers.
Latta, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, improved to 18-3 on the year while Roff (No. 14 in Class A) slipped to 18-5.
“I was proud of our kids. I’m not really into moral victories, but I told them to leave the locker room with their head held high and a bitter taste in their mouth,” said Roff head coach Bo Thomason. “Latta is an extremely well-coached team. We’re not going to see a team like that to me in our class. It shows us we have the chance to play with anybody.”
In the girls contest, Latta seized control early and cruised past Roff 61-30. The Lady Panthers (No. 9 in Class 2A) improved to 16-5, while Roff (No. 12 in Class A) dropped to 18-6.
The Roff girls will now turn their attention to a Class A District elimination contest with Pontotoc Conference rival Stonewall at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Roff. The Roff boys will meet the Allen-Stonewall winner in the district title game at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Latta will host Lindsay for Senior Night tonight before traveling to Sulphur on Saturday.
Latta 45, Roff 37
Roff scored eight straight points — fueled by 3-pointers from sophomore C.J. Johnson to end the third quarter and begin the fourth period — to turn a 32-27 deficit into a 35-32 lead with 6:27 to play
After two Latta free throws by Brady Johnson, Hayes hit a triple that put Latta on top 37-35.
Lonnie Petersen muscled in a basket for Roff to tie the game at 37-all, and Thomason called a timeout with exactly three minutes to play.
Hayes later drilled another 3-pointer with 2:04 remaining that broke the tie and gave the Panthers a 40-37 advantage they would never relinquish.
“You know, that’s the thing. Sometimes you just have to find a way to win. You get into a situation, and you just have to come through,” said Latta head coach Donnie Husband. “I was happy with how we played the last three minutes of the game. We really executed and hit some shots and made the plays in the end we had to make.”
Hayes missed his first four 3-point tries before making two huge shots down the stretch. He finished with 12 points — all scored in the second half — to lead a balanced Latta offense.
“He’s been struggling with his shooting as much as anybody, and so it was good to see him hit a couple of big shots. It was good to see him step up in that situation and knock them down,” Husband said. “Hopefully, that bodes well as we go forward.”
Latta hit five free throws over the final 1:23 — four by Brogan Cantrell — to salt the game away.
Husband said the Panthers have been fighting through some shooting woes lately.
“We’re just not shooting the ball well consistently right now, and it’s keeping us from putting runs together and sustaining what we’re doing. Hopefully, that will turn around a little bit in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll start shooting the ball a little better and play a little more consistently than we are right now,” he said.
Latta had jumped out to a 7-0 lead before the Tigers rallied with a 14-8 run to get within 15-14 after a basket by Mike Anderson at the 2:40 mark of the second period. A Hunter Larsh 3-pointer knotted the score at 17-17 before Latta got back-to-back buckets by Brady Johnson and Treston Tully to put the Panthers on top 21-17 at halftime.
Latta 6-5 post player Derek Epperly scored seven of his 10 points in the first half on a variety of strong moves inside the paint. Tully added nine points for the hosts.
Roff got eight points from both Zach Lewis and Cade Carpenter.
Husband wasn’t surprised to see the Panthers get pushed by local rival Roff.
“They’re not a five-win team. They’re ranked in the Top 15 in Class A. They have good players and high-character kids, and they’re well-coached. We knew they were going to come in here and play,” he said. “To think otherwise would be foolish. We knew they were going to play well. At the same time, we didn’t play as well as we can play, but they had a lot to do with that.”
Latta 61, Roff 30
After the game was tied at 6-all in the early going, Latta reeled off 11 unanswered points to go on top, 17-6, after a steal and layup by Shelbey Parnacher.
The Panthers used a 12-4 second-quarter surge to go on top, 29-12, at halftime. The Lady Tigers went just 1-of-10 from the field in the second period.
Latta opened the third quarter with a 14-3 volley to build a 43-15 lead after Sydney Brinlee’s jumper at the 3:46 mark. Krisha Young scored seven of her nine points in that spurt. She also finished with five steals.
Post player Nelania Baker led a balanced Latta offense with 10 points, while Brinlee chipped in eight. Maria Priest came off the bench and scored seven points, while Parnacher and Laramie Edens added six each. Thirteen different players reached the scoring column for Latta.
Freshmen Jessi Scott and Breecia Crawford scored nine points each to lead the Roff offense. Scott also had four steals. Lauren Trimmer was limited to just four points but pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
The Lady Tigers shot just 7-for-39 from the field (17.9 percent) and committed 23 turnovers. Meanwhile, Latta sank 24-of-48 field goals (50 percent) and outrebounded Roff 43-28.