SULPHUR — Hailey Baber’s name didn’t show up in the boxscore against Sulphur Tuesday night, but boy was she a difference-maker.
Baber was mostly responsible for limiting Sulphur scoring machine Korie Allensworth to 10 points in Latta’s 49-42 road win.
Latta, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, improved to 21-3 on the year, while Sulphur — No. 13 in Class 4A — dipped to 19-2.
“We’re tickled to death to get that one,” said Latta head coach Bruce Plunk, who thinks one of his teams surpassed 21 regular-season wins for the first time in his lengthy career. “It had a playoff kind of feel about it — a packed house, a close game. It was a lot of fun. We just hope to keep getting better and build on the momentum we have going.”
Plunk said Allensworth had to earn everything she got.
“Hailey Baber guarded the snot out of her,” he said.
It was tight for three-quarters plus. Latta led 10-8 after the first quarter and held a 26-23 halftime edge. Sulphur trimmed its deficit to 36-34 heading into the final eight minutes.
Plunk said his team turned up its defense down the stretch.
“We finished the game really strong. The last two to three minutes, we got some big stops,” he said.
Chloe Brinlee and Tayrn Batterton led the LHS offense with 14 points apiece. Brinlee knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and also had five rebounds.
“(Brinlee) played well. It was good to see her get that kind of game in,” Plunk said.
Sophomore Jaylee Willis scored seven points, including a pair of treys, off the bench for Latta.
Staring point guard Caitlyn Byrd left the game midway through the first quarter with concussion-like symptoms. Plunk said senior Tawni Wood slipped right into Byrd’s vacant spot.
“We always talk about the next man up, and Tawni ran the team really well,” he said.
Carson Dean followed with six points and eight rebounds.
The Lady Panthers also limited their turnovers to nine against Sulphur’s stiff defense.
“Our inside game was solid and had a chance to be good. We missed some easy shots,” Plunk said. “In the moment, we defended well and rebounded strong.”
Abby Beck scored 14 points to pace Sulphur, while Makella Mobly followed with 13.
Things don’t get much easier for the Lady Panthers, who travel to Class 2A No. 5 Dale on Saturday.