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March 11, 2014

Latta girls rough up Rush Springs

Byng — Rush Springs tried to keep the ball out of veteran Latta guard Shelbey Parnacher’s hands for much of the night during a Class 2A Area Tournament consolation championship Saturday night inside Byng’s Bill Koller Fieldhouse.

By default, that meant Krisha Young would have the ball more often. And boy, did she make the Lady Redskins pay.

Young exploded for a game-high 21 points as the Lady Panthers used a big second half to pull away for a 54-40 victory.

No. 8 Latta advances to the Class 2A State Tournament with a 21-8 record, while No. 17 Rush Springs is finished at 23-5. The Lady Panthers will meet No. 3 Preston at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Westmoore High School in the first round of the state tournament. It will be the first state appearance for the Latta girls since 2001.

“They had a goal. After (Friday) night, not playing well in the fourth quarter (during a 43-31 loss to No. 5 Cordell), I think they had it figured out,” said Latta head man David Tinkler. “You never talk about having a second chance, but we knew we had one. We took advantage of it.”

Young scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half that saw Latta outscore Rush Springs 36-21. She finished 8-of-12 from the free-throw line.

“They were chasing Shelbey. Shelbey didn’t have great opportunities to get the ball, so Krisha took hold of it,” Tinkler explained. “She filled up the basket with some pretty good shots. She stepped up her game. She was also guarding their best player also (Jacy Cullens). She did a super job.”

Latta led just 22-19 at halftime, and Rush Springs was still within 29-27 after a 4-0 mini spurt that included single free throws from Samantha Dennis and Kaylin Rennaker and a basket inside by Cullens after a bullet pass from Jordan Brooks.

But Young and Shiann Henderson both hit 3-pointers in the final 2:09 of the period that allowed Latta to carry a 35-29 advantage into the fourth quarter. Latta outscored Rush Springs 17-10 overall in the third quarter.

Laramie Edens scored on an inbounds pass to start the final period, and Young followed with a jumper that gave Latta its first double-digit lead of the game at 39-29.

“The second half, we kind of wore them down and got after it and made some really big shots,” Tinkler said. “We got in sync a lot better. We just made some adjustments as far as how to get open.”

Rush Springs got no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Edens added seven points and six rebounds off the bench for Latta, while Taryn Wood scored seven for the locals, who saw eight different players reach the scoring column. Sydney Brinlee had four points to go with a game-high eight rebounds.

Cullens scored 16 to pace Rush Springs, while Brooks reached double figures with 10.

The Lady Panthers finished with 11 blocked shots and now have 27 in their last three playoff games.

“When people come into the paint, that's their territory. They’re not short in blocking shots at all,” Tinkler said. “They have pretty good timing, too. Most of it is them and their athletic ability and their length in being able to do that.”

Tinkler said he believed his team had all the components of a state tournament squad right from the start of the season.

“I thought all along this group could get there. We just had to get them to believe that. And they did. It was just a matter of getting it accomplished. They did a great job,” he said.

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