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Both Latta clubs fall on final day in Atoka

Jan. 24—ATOKA — The Latta Lady Panthers couldn't overcome a poor second quarter in a 46-40 loss to host Atoka Saturday at the 2024 Wampus Cat Classic.

The Lady Panthers, ranked No. 17 in Class 2A, fell to 10-8 on the year, while Atoka improved to 7-10.

"We dug ourselves a hole that we weren't able to climb out of. We missed a lot of shots early, which kept us from being able to get in our press," said Latta girls coach Clay Plunk. "But we never quit. Down as much as 18 to 20 points, we finally got a few shots to go in the second half and were able to press and force some turnovers. We needed a couple more shots to go late, but just didn't get it done."

The Latta girls had dismantled Lone Grove — ranked No. 14 in Class 3A — by a count of 46-12 in tournament action on Friday.

The Panthers also fell on the final day of play in Atoka, dropping a 40-31 decision to Eufaula. The Latta boys had knocked off Lone Grove 58-47 on Friday.

Coach Matt Bryant entered the week at 8-9 on the season.

Both Latta clubs are scheduled to return to Atoka on Friday.

GIRLS

Atoka 46, Latta 40

Atoka led 15-7 after the first quarter but used a pivotal 11-1 run in the second period to build a 26-8 halftime advantage.

Latta still trailed 35-18 after three periods but ended the game with an impressive 22-11 surge before the comeback fell short.

Jayse Smith led the LHS charge with 17 points, including three 3-point baskets. Backcourt mate Kelbey Parnacher also hit double figures with 14 points.

Kaylee Washington paced the Lady Wampus Cats with 15 points while Kyleigh Ritchie also hit double digits with 12. Washington hit a pair of 3-point shots for Atoka.

Latta 46, Lone Grove 12

Latta turned in a superb defensive effort for all four quarters. The Lady Panthers raced to a 16-3 lead to start the game and outscored the Lady Longhorns 12-2 in the second period to take a 28-5 lead at the break. Latta outscored Lone Grove 18-7 over the final two frames.

"The girls came out and played really sharp today. We were really balanced in the first half and spread the ball around," Plunk said. "But I was more proud of our defensive and rebounding effort than anything else. It's easy to play hard when you have the ball in your hands or when you have a chance to score, but playing hard on the other side of the ball is a decision that players have to make every time down the floor, and we did that."

Jayse Smith led the LHS offense with 14 points. Kelbey Parnacher just missed double digits with nine points and Jakobi Worcester was next with six.

Parnacher, Kate Williams, Katon Turner, Smith, Jolee Myers, and Paislee Anderson all sank 3-point shots for the Lady Panthers.

Madison Torres led Lone Grove with five points.

BOYS

Eufaula 40, Latta 31

The Ironheads used a 17-2 run to start the contest to put Latta in an early hole. Eufaula still led 21-7 at halftime and 28-13 after three frames. Latta ended the game on an 18-12 run.

The Panthers got a team-best nine points from Caymen Smith on the strength of three 3-pointers. Carter Dotson was next with five points.

Maddox Bridges led Eufaula with with 12 points and Draven Gragg also hit double figures with 10.

Landen Mills chipped in six points for the Ironheads.

Latta 58, Lone Grove 47

Sam Brown canned four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points in the Latta victory.

The Panthers led 22-18 after a fast-paced first quarter and the local carried a 35-24 head into the break.

Lone Grove stayed within striking distance in the second half, outscoring Latta 24-22 but couldn't make up the early deficit.

Reese Littlefield came off the bench and scored 10 points for the Panthers, while Deakon Smith followed with eight.

Brody Harris led the Longhorns with 15 points. Bliss Newton was next with seven and hit the team's lone 3-pointer.

Latta made 15-of-21 free throws in the contest and Lone Grove finished 12-of-22 from the stripe.