Jeff Cali Sports Editor email@example.com
The Latta Lady Panthers may consider a 49-43 loss to Lomega in the fifth place game of the 2013 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic Saturday as the one that got away.
Latta made two great comebacks during the game only to see the Lady Raiders complete a rally of their own in the closing minutes of the game.
Taryn Wood made two free throws for the Lady Panthers at the halfway point of the fourth quarter to put Latta on top 43-40. However, Latta went ice cold over the final 4:36, missing its final six field goal attempts and four free throws and didn’t score again.
“We just didn’t score. We didn’t get enough looks toward the end. We didn’t get many second shots, and if you don’t get second shots and don’t finish the first one, it’s a little bit grim,” said Latta head coach David Tinkler.
Lomega (No. 3 in Class B) improved to 11-3 on the year while Latta (No. 6 in 2A) fell to 8-2.
Beca Drake scored off a nice feed from Taylor Mendell with 3:50 left to tie the score at 43-43. After Mendell hit a free throw and Latta missed two of its own, Mendell hit a floater in the lane with 1:41 remaining that put the Lady Raiders up by three at 46-43.
Mendell would rebound a Latta miss, get fouled and hit two more free shots with 1:08 left to push the Lomega lead to 48-43. The Lomega senior would add one last free throw with 30.6 ticks remaining for the final point of the game. She would finish with a game-high 19 points and was 7-of-12 from the free-throw line.
“My kids battled hard the whole time. It’s not that they had any more firepower than we did. We had to send them to the line, and they made some free throws at the end. It could have been the other way around,” Tinkler said.
Lomega threatened to turn the game into a blowout early, racing to leads of 9-2 and 22-9. The Lady Raiders hit eight of their first 13 shot attempts.
But the second quarter belonged to Latta, which used a stingy defense to limit Lomega to three points on 1-of-10 shooting. Meanwhile, the Latta Panthers notched 18 points in the second period and ended that frame with a 3-pointer by Wood and a steal and layup at the buzzer by Diamond Hill that gave her team a 27-25 halftime lead.
Lomega rebounded in the third quarter, using a 15-5 surge to go on top 40-32. Mendell had six points in the period, including a long 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
The Lady Panthers responded by scoring the first nine points of the final period, including five during one possession. Sydney Brinlee hit a bucket inside to start the fourth before Laramie Edens banked one off the glass after a nice pass from Shelbey Parnacher that trimmed the Lomega lead to 40-36.
On Latta’s next possession, Wood hit a free throw but missed the second. Nelania Baker was fouled on the rebound, and she too made the first of two free shots. This time Edens grabbed the rebound, scored on the putback, was fouled and completed the three-point play to give Latta a 41-40 lead with 4:48 left.
“I like the way they battled back two different times. If we get a couple of more shots to fall when that run took place, it’s probably a different game,” Tinkler said.
Edens finished a solid three-game Mid-America stint with 12 points and nine rebounds to lead the Lady Panthers in defeat. Baker added nine points and eight rebounds for the locals.
Drake scored 11 points and had five rebounds for Lomega, while Hailey Duffy also reached double figures with 10 points.
Tinkler said Latta’s Mid-America experience should pay dividends on down the road.
“The more games they play like this, the better they’re going to be. Hopefully, as we go through the second half (of the season), it’s going to get better and better. Hopefully we can stay healthy and keep going,” he said.