SHAWNEE — A late lead slipped away before Hartshorne hung on to punch its ticket back to the state tournament.
Third-ranked Hartshorne led by nine early in the fourth before No. 5 Latta’s Shelby Garrett went off from deep to pull within two, but the Lady Miners took a 46-43 win Friday in the Class 2A Area IV championship game at Shawnee.
“We’ll take it,” Hartshorne head coach Mark Woolard said after the game.
“I thought the girls did a really good job,” he added. “There were times in the first half we looked tired, but we got back on top of it.”
Hartshorne (26-1) advanced to the state tournament for the second consecutive season, while Latta (23-6) went to the area consolation final.
So what’s key for Hartshorne moving forward?
“I would say playing unselfish,” said Jaycee Kitchell, who had 20 points and eight rebounds Friday. “We have to play as a team and play for each other.”
Latta took a two-point lead at the half before both teams traded 3-pointers to open the second half.
But Hartshorne’s Ozzlyn Lightle made three free throws, Jaylee Moore added a corner 3-pointer and Jaycee Kitchell followed with a three as Hartshorne took a 31-24 lead into the final stanza.
Latta rallied and pulled within two points with 23 second left after Shelby Garrett hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter before Hartshorne hung on for the win.
“I think in the second half we just settled down and started doing the things that got us here and that’s the 3-2 defense and using the length that we’ve got,” Woolard said.
Holli Lindley had six steals to help lead the way on defense and said the Lady Miners will keep focusing on stingy defense moving forward.
“That’s what we like best because if we can stop them on offense, then we can get under their skin,” Lindley said. “I try to get a hand the ball every time just to see what happens and most of the time it works out.”
Kitchell got things rolling with a layup and Moore followed with a deep 3-pointer. Latta’s Shelby Garrett answered with a 3-pointer, but Moore hit another one on the next trip down.
“I’m in the gym every night so I just catch and shoot and if I’m on fire I just keep it going,” said Moore, who had 12 points and five rebounds.
The Lady Miners used a stifling 3-2 defense in the first quarter with Holli Lindley swiping three steals to help them take a 12-9 lead through the opening period.
Latta took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter after Macy Smith hit a left-wing three and inched ahead to a five-point lead.
But Hartshorne tied the game late in the half after Lindley cut through the lane for a layup and Ashton Hackler followed with a left-wing three.
However, Latta dribbled out most of the clock in the rest of the half before Emma Epperly hit a floater in the paint at the buzzer for a 21-19 halftime advantage.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org