SULPHUR — Sulphur junior Tamara Mitchell scored a game-high 24 points, including 14 of 17 from the line overall and 10 of 11 from the stripe in the fourth period, to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 39-29 victory over the Latta Lady Panthers Saturday night at the Sulphur high school gym.
Sulphur (14-6) entered the fourth period leading by nine at 26-17. But in the final eight minutes the Lady Panthers went to a tough man-to-man defense to try and stop the Lady Bulldog offense and get back in the game. In the fourth, Sulphur had an inside bucket by Mitchell and an offensive rebound and put-back by Haley Rogers. And that provided their only points from the floor.
But with the game on the line, Mitchell was the target on the inside for the Lady Bulldogs. Not wanting to stall nor to shoot low-percentage shots from the perimeter, Sulphur's guards, Ashley Mann and Brittany Gregory and forward Haley Rogers kicked the ball in to Mitchell time after time on the offensive end.
With the Lady Panther defense spread so wide in man-to-man coverage, Mitchell opted to head for the bucket and gained the foul calls over and over. And Mitchell got the job done at the line as the Lady Bulldogs outscored Latta 13-12 in the final period to move on for the 10-point win.
Latta (14-8), did a solid job in the early going of moving without the basketball and freeing people up on the inside for lay-ups. The Lady Panthers jumped to an 8-1 lead before the Lady Bulldogs adjusted defensively and started to click on offense.
Megan Grinstead hit a jumper in the lane for Sulphur's first field goal late in the opening frame. And after Rogers and Mitchell hit one of two from the line apiece, Mitchell grabbed a missed shot and put it back at the buzzer to pull the Lady Bulldogs within 9-6 after the first eight minutes.
Sulphur tossed a shutout in the second period defensively. And that's where the game turned. With the Lady Bulldog zone defense clamping down on each Latta possession, the Lady Panthers were unable to convert on any of their five shots. At the other end, free throws were keeping Sulphur in the game. After five converted tosses at the line gave the Lady Bulldogs an 11-9 lead, Mann drained a 3-pointer at the top of the 3-point line to put Sulphur up 14-9.
With under a minute left before intermission, Mitchell hit an inside bucket and the accompanying free throw to give the Lady Bulldogs a 17-9 halftime lead.
And Sulphur wasn't through yet. Grinstead fed Mitchell for an 8-foot jumper to up the lead to 10 early in the third, and Mitchell kicked the ball out to Mann, who nailed her second trey of the game to give the Lady Bulldogs a 22-9 edge. Mann then found Mitchell for a 10-foot jumper in the lane, and Sulphur was now on top 24-9. A Latta time-out temporarily halted the Lady Bulldog offensive.
With five minutes left in the third, Latta's Chelsey Bennett hit a baseline jumper from 15 feet, and that provided the Lady Panthers with their first points in almost 15 minutes.
Latta was still unable to penetrate the Sulphur defense nor to get passes to the interior with any consistency. The Lady Bulldogs owned a 9-8 advantage in the third and took a 26-17 lead to the fourth.
Sulphur put the game on ice in the first two minutes of the fourth. The Lady Bulldogs scored the game's next five points from the charity stripe, and with six minutes remaining, Sulphur had now built to a 31-17 lead.
In the game's final four minutes, the Lady Panthers got two inside buckets from Casey Morgan, an inside jumper by Tosha MacCollister and a 3-pointer by Lacie Lawson. But Latta was unable to make defensive stops at the other end without fouling. With the ball going to Mitchell and fouls ensuing, she drained her final nine in a row to keep the Lady Bulldogs safely in the lead.
Both teams shot just 31 percent from the floor. Sulphur was 9 of 29, and Latta was 11 of 35. But at the line, the Lady Bulldogs were 19 of 31 (61 percent) to 6 of 9 (67 percent) for the Lady Panthers. Sulphur had a 23-21 overall rebounding advantage, and both squads pulled down seven offensive boards.
Mitchell led the Lady Bulldogs in rebounds with eight, and Mann finished with seven points.
Skyler Jenson paced the Lady Panthers with nine points and eight boards.
Sulphur 46, Latta 42
After falling behind 17-3 in the game's first five minutes, and being down 19-8 at the end of the first period, the Sulphur Bulldogs put together three huge periods to come from behind and defeat the Latta Panthers by a 46-42 score Saturday night at the Sulphur high school gym.
Latta (13-9), had taken a 42-41 lead with 1:11 left in the game on two free throws by Jeremi Correll. But at the offensive end, Sulphur's Bryeson Lance drained a long 3-pointer, his second of the game, to give the Bulldogs a 44-42 lead.
The Sulphur defense smothered the Latta offense under the Panther bucket on their next possession, and the Panthers ended up committing a critical turnover with 35 ticks remaining. Now forced to foul, they sent senior Mat Wolf to the line with 16 seconds remaining. Wolf calmly drained both tosses to put the Bulldogs up by four. And at the other end, Latta was unable to get any of their four shot attempts to fall as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
The Panthers were in run-away mode in the first period. All of their buckets seemed almost effortless with two 6-5 forwards, Isaac Vandever and Jeremi Correll, parked out underneath. Vandever scored 10 first-period points, all from point-blank range, and Kolbie Brown hit three from close-in as the Panthers took the 19-8 lead to the second.
But Sulphur (7-13), hammered down on the inside defensively, and forced Latta to try their hand from 3-point land. And the going there wasn't quite as easy, and the Panthers hit just one of eight from beyond the arc and also missed all five of their close-in shots in the second period.
The game's momentum had switched to the Bulldogs, who held Latta to just three points in the second. Robert Thomas hit two of two from the line with eight seconds remaining before halftime to pull Sulphur to within 22-19. Wolf ended up with the basketball in his hands and put up a long 3-pointer at the buzzer that found nothing but net to knot the game at 22-all at intermission.
The Panthers were now struggling for every point. Vandever scored eight of the ten Latta points in the third, all on offensive rebounds and put-backs. Sulphur held a small lead through-out the third and was up 33-30 before Connell hit a lay-up at the buzzer to trim the Bulldog lead to 33-32 heading to the fourth.
Sulphur's lead moved to five points at 39-34 before Latta was able to gain the tie and move ahead 42-41 late. But Lance's trey and Wolf's two charity tosses put the game in the win column for the Bulldogs.
Sulphur was 14 of 36 (39 percent) from the floor to just 18 of 50 (36 percent) for Latta. The Bulldogs were a perfect 12 of 12 from the line to just 5 of 6 (83 percent) for the Panthers. Sulphur's quickness off the dribble, especially on the inside, was able to overcome the 25-20 rebounding edge owned by Latta, and turnovers were basically even.
Wolf had 16 points, including a perfect six of six from the line, to lead the Bulldogs, and Thomas had 13 points and six rebounds.
Vandever paced the Panthers with 18 points and nine rebounds, five of which were on the offensive glass. Brown had 10 points, all in the first half, for Latta.
The Panthers travel to Washington tonight.