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Panthers' Latham gets it done at buzzer


12:00 AM, Jan. 19, 2013 EST

Darius Latham was on his back when his game-winning shot went through the hoop.

"I fell back trying to create a foul," Latham said. "I shoot every shot like it's going in."

Latham's basket with 2 seconds left gave North Central a 59-57 victory over host Lawrence North in Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference action on Friday night.

Latham's shot was the third in the final sequence.

"I missed a shot and then a teammate missed a shot and then it bounced back to me," said Latham, whose team improved to 8-4 (2-1 MIC).

Right place, right time, like he usually is, Panthers coach Doug Mitchell would say.

"He's a tough competitor," Mitchell said. "He's Mr. Basketball. I'm going to keep saying it until somebody listens. For a high school team, for what that term Mr. Basketball means, what he means to this team is unbelievable -- leadership, defense, offense and his ability to rebound. He's been in big games. He's been in a state championship. He's won sectionals and regionals. He came out here and made sure his team would not lose (Friday night). That was huge."

After Latham's shot, Lawrence North coach Jack Keefer said he tried to call a timeout but no one heard him. Lawrence North took a desperation shot from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer.

"They had three chances to win. That's a little too many," Keefer said of the final sequence. "Those were 50-50 balls and someone could have got them. They came up with the big plays."

Keefer also wasn't pleased how his Wildcats (9-3, 2-1) played with a 54-49 lead with 3:26 left.

"We didn't play well from that point on," Keefer said.

Latham finished with 19 points. Freshman guard Eron Gordon was high scorer for the Panthers with 22.

Gordon hit a 3-pointer to put the Panthers ahead 55-54 with a little more than 2 minutes left.

After Lawrence North missed, Latham made two free throws with 1:08 to go.

The Wildcats' Michael Parker sank a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to tie the score. Parker's shot came after an offensive rebound by the Wildcats.

"We had the ball and it was overturned from an official that ran all the way across the court to make the call, but that's part of the game," Mitchell said. "Then we lost (Parker). We can't lose him. We know he's a great shooter."

Mitchell was happy with the gritty play of his Panthers.

"Whenever one does their job and does it for the good of the team, we're very tough to beat," said Mitchell, whose team hosts Muncie Central at 5:30 p.m. today.

Senior Basil Smotherman, a Purdue recruit, led the Wildcats with 19 points.

 

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