Latta — The grand opening of the new Latta Panther Fieldhouse couldn’t have gone any better for those wearing black and gold.
With local rival Byng in town, both games were close until the closing minutes before Latta was able to finally take control and pull away for a pair of Panther victories before a crowd of nearly 2,000 mostly pink-clad fans Tuesday night.
In the girls contest, Latta hit seven unanswered free throws in the final 2:21 in a 37-31 victory while a 9-0 fourth-quarter run helped seal the deal in the Panthers’ 53-41 win over Byng in the boys game.
Latta 37, Byng 31
Latta (ranked No. 5 in Class 2A) improved to 10-3 on the year while Byng fell to 8-6.
“That ends a dry spell. We hadn’t beat Byng in a few games. That was a good one, especially for my seniors,” said Latta head coach David Tinkler following the game. “It was just two good defensive teams going at each other. We mixed in a little offense and persevered.”
Byng nearly overcame a dreadful third quarter that saw the Lady Pirates miss 6-of-7 field goals and commit five turnovers. Tatum Hill sank a mid-range baseline jumper off an assist from her sister, Alexis Hill, at the 2:58 mark to trim a Latta lead to 26-21. It would be the last points of the frame.
Byng’s Briauna Delozier rebounded her own shot and scored on a putback to open the fourth quarter and get the Lady Pirates within 26-23. But Krisha Young, who carried the Latta offense in the first half with nine points, hit her only bucket of the final two frames — a pull-up jumper from the baseline — and Laramie Edens followed with a jumper of her own (her only basket of the game) to push the Latta lead to 30-23 with 4:13 to play.