It was high time the Latta Panthers came out on the right side of a game like this.
Junior Ethan Elliott slipped into the post area, grabbed a rebound and scored on a putback as time expired in overtime to give the Panthers an exhilarating 44-42 win over Rattan Thursday night in the first round of the Latta Panther Classic.
The Panthers, who had already lost close games to Vanoss and Roff earlier this season, improved to 2-4, while Rattan dropped to 4-3.
“For us to close this one out was big for us. It was a weight lifted off our shoulders,” said first-year head coach Paxton Kilby, who is still trying to find the right mix in his lineup after six games. “Ever since that tough loss to Roff (the Panthers saw a 10-point lead evaporate in the setback), a big thing we’ve talked about is learning to close basketball games.”
On the final play of the game, Randis Gray put up a floater in the lane that was just off the mark, and the ball fell off the left side of the rim. Elliott hustled for the rebound and scored as the clock hit zero to break a tie and give the Panthers the last-second victory.
Elliott, who had taken only one shot (a 3-point miss) in regulation, drilled a a key triple earlier in the OT session.
“He stepped up big. He can really shoot it, and we feel comfortable for him to shoot it when he gets a good look,” Kilby said. “He’s had some shots rim out on him, so he was due for that, just like we were due for a close win.”
With Latta trailing by two, Elliott buried a 3-pointer at the 2:29 mark of the overtime to give Latta a 42-41 lead.
Rattan’s Chuck O’Dell hit the first of two free throws with 1:04 left in the game to tie the score at 42-42. He finished 3-of-7 from the charity stripe.
The Rams got the ball back with 41.5 ticks left in OT and called a timeout. However, an unforced turnover gave the ball to Latta with 25.2 seconds remaining and set up the last-second heroics by Elliott.
The Panthers trailed 19-14 after a sluggish first half but turned this around to start the third quarter.
Latta scored 10 straight points to open the second half. Gray scored the first three on a layup and a free throw. Hyatt Hoppe scored back-to-back baskets on a steal and layup and a drive to the basket before Bryce Ireland hit a layup after a drive to the hoop and then made one of two free throws after Rattan’s Rece Bankston was charged with a technical foul.
When that flurry was over, Latta had created a 24-19 lead.
Bryce Ireland buried a 3-pointer at the 2:22 mark of the third quarter to put the hosts ahead 30-22, but Rattan’s Ryan Makerney rallied his club. He scored five straight RHS points — including a late 3-pointer that trimmed the LHS advantage to 30-27 heading into the fourth period.
The two teams traded baskets for much of the final period of regulation. Gray’s steal and layup with just under a minute left gave the Panthers a 37-36 lead. Gray went to the free-throw line with 35.4 remaining but missed.
O’Dell again made 1-of-2 free shots for the Rams at the 17.6 mark to tie the game at 37-37.
After a Latta turnover with 4.1 ticks left, Makerney had a good look at a long 3-point shot at the buzzer, but the ball clanged off the front of the rim to send the game into overtime.
Hyatt Hoppe scored 14 points to lead Latta, including 10 in the second half to lead the Panthers’ comeback bid.
“He probably gets so mad at me because I coach him harder than anybody. But that’s because I think he has a chance to be really good,” Kilby said. “He showed glimpses of that in the second half tonight. He was big for us.”
Gray finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two steals for the hosts. Bryce Ireland hit both of his field goals and scored five points, while Tyler Ireland scored just one basket but had a team-high six boards.
Rattan’s balanced effort included 12 points by Bankston and 11 apiece from Makerney and O’Dell. Cal Birchfield scored the Rams other eight points before fouling out.
The Panthers played a semifinal game Friday night against Comanche. Today’s tournament games have been postponed until Monday due to the threat of bad weather. Consolation games will start at 1:40 p.m. There will be no seventh-place contests.
It’s almost like the Latta High School girls basketball team flipped a switch Thursday night during its 58-19 win over Holdenville in the first round of the Latta Panther Classic.
After Holdenville’s Faith Voigt hit a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter, Latta was nursing a 6-5 lead.
From there, Latta went on a dominant 28-0 run and after Cheyenne Adair blew past her defender for an easy layup at the 1:11 mark of the second quarter, the Lady Panthers’ lead had gotten way out of hand at 34-5.
Latta lead 36-6 at halftime and thing went from bad to worse for the overmatched Lady Wolverines. The Lady Panthers shut out Holdenville in the third quarter and led 49-6 heading to the final frame.
Latta 6-1 post player Emma Epperly had her way inside the paint, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. She finished 8-of-12 from the field.
No other LHS player reached double figures, but Macy Smith hit three 3-point baskets for nine points and Chloe Brinlee, part of Latta’s collection of talented post players, followed with eight points, six rebounds and four steals.
Nine different Latta players scored. Tawni Wood was a spark off the bench. She scored just two points but had five rebounds and three steals.
HHS freshman Emmalyn Mariott scored a team-high five points off the bench for the visitors.
Latta won the battle of the boards 45-23.
The Lady Panthers played a semifinal game Friday night against Washington.