The Vanoss High School girls basketball team passed its first test of the season in a 52-39 win over local rival Latta in an intense contest Friday night inside the Vanoss Activity Center.
The Lady Wolves improved to 6-0 on the season, while Latta dropped to 1-2. The Lady Panthers dropped a 48-44 decision last week. All three clubs — Vanoss, Dale and Latta — are expected to be at or near the top of the Class 2A rankings when the first list is released after Thanksgiving.
In a much more subdued boys game, the Wolves ran their record to 6-0 with a 49-39 win over Latta. The Panthers are now 0-3 after setbacks to Roff, Dale and the Wolves.
Vanoss is off until the 2019 Pontotoc Conference Tournament, scheduled for Dec. 2-7 at Allen High School.
Latta travels to Byng Dec. 6.
Vanoss 52, Latta 39
Junior Emrie Ellis was in beast mode against the Lady Panthers. She piled a triple-double that included 25 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocked shots.
In fact, Ellis was THE difference.
“Emrie is a special player and she’s healthy this year, so there are probably going to be a lot of nights she looks really good,” said Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt. “She’s been very coachable. She followed the scouting report and did a good job of playing without the basketball in her hands, which enabled her to get a bunch of good looks.”
During the first half, Ellis had every Vanoss field goal except two — one by Abbie Snow and a 3-point basket by freshman Trinity Belcher, who gave Hurt and company quality minutes off the bench.
An Ellis 3-pointer at the 5:38 mark of the second quarter put Vanoss on top 20-12. The Panthers finished the first half strong, going on a 10-4 run to get within 24-22 on a basket inside by Taryn Batterton off a nice assist from Carson Dean.
With time running out, Ellis backed into the lane and used a nifty spin move to get a layup to make it 26-22 at halftime.
Vanoss limited Latta to just five points over the first 9:36 of the second half. And after Rileigh Rush buried a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Wolves had forged a 37-27 lead. It was the first basket of the game for Rush, who finished with seven points.
Latta pulled within six at 40-34 on a pair of free throws by Dean, but Vanoss finished the game on a 12-5 spurt.
Lizzy Simpson scored seven points but also didn’t have a field goal until the fourth period. Emily Wilson, whose previous low was nine points, was held without a field goal and finished with three points.
Hurt said even though his team is undefeated, there is much work to be done.
“I’m happy we’re 6-0, but we’re going to have to learn to play better every single day. Whether it be at practice or during games that aren’t very close, we have to do a better job of competing all the time,” he said.
Dean had an impressive double-double for Latta that included 11 points and 15 rebounds. She went 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. Batterton also had 11 points but failed to score in the second half.
The Lady Panthers had a big 50-35 edge on the boards but committed 20 turnovers in the game.
Vanoss 49, Latta 39
The Wolves used a balanced offensive attack and played solid defense to upend the Panthers.
Vanoss led 16-9 after a putback by Riley Vazquez at the 3:26 mark of the second quarter and still led 22-13 after a pair of free throws from Cade Paulin with 1:41 before halftime.
The Wolves led 24-18 at halftime. Latta had connected on just 1-of-10 3-point attempts during the first two quarters.
Latta inched within five twice in the third period, but the Wolves ended that frame with a 12-5 run to take control.
“I thought we did a good job of taking away their strengths in the half-court, and they missed some shots they probably normally make,” said Hurt, who also coaches the VHS boys team. “We did a better job on the boards in the second half, which helped us win the game.”
Vanoss made 11-of-15 free throws, compared to a 6-of-9 performance by the visitors.
Tucker Bucher hit three 3-point shots and scored a team-high 13 points for the Wolves. Ryan Dennis followed with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and also had seven rebounds and two steals.
Paulin contributed 11 points to the VHS cause, while Vasquez ended with nine points and 11 rebounds.
“I told Vazquez that’s probably the best game he’s ever played for me. Tonight in a big environment, he made plays,” Hurt said.
Latta got eight points from Rylan Schlup, who had just a single point at halftime. Lane Garrett and Ethan Elliott followed with seven points each. Elliott also had six rebounds and three steals.