It's been a special basketball ride for Pontotoc County fans

Feb. 29—Playoff basketball has been a treat for Pontotoc County basketball fans, especially on the girls side of things.

First, we got Ada versus Byng in a Class 4A Regional girls and boys doubleheader last week.

Now, the Latta and Vanoss girls' basketball teams will battle in a Class 2A Regional Tournament consolation contest Thursday at 1 p.m. at Chickasha High School.

Just like the Ada versus Byng game, the battle between the sixth-ranked Lady Wolves and No. 18 Latta will be a loser-leaves-the-playoffs matchup.

"It's a special year when you get Ada-Byng and Latta-Vanoss in the playoffs and one of them is going home," Vanoss girls basketball head coach Jonathon Hurt told The Ada News.

Another local squad, the Stratford Lady Bulldogs, meets a 19-6 Walters team that sent Vanoss into the loser's bracket. Stratford enters the area fray at 15-12 but has won seven of its past nine outings. The two losses were both to Latta. The Stratford-Walters winner will face the Vanoss-Latta survivor at 1 p.m. Friday back in Chickasha.

"It's loaded. We knew it was going to be loaded when it came out," Hurt said of the teams still hanging around in the Area 1 Bracket. "We knew we might be on a collision course with Latta. I believe whoever wins that game will be the favorite to go on to the state tournament. Not that there's not some other really good teams over there."

The winner's bracket game Friday night in Chickasha will pit No. 1 Dale (27-1) against No. 12 Calera for the area championship. The Lady Bulldogs stand at 25-2 on the year and their only losses were to Latta in November and a road setback to Class A No. 2 Caddo.

"Calera is capable of beating anybody and so is Walters and Stratford. But I think the winner of our game has a good shot to get to state," Hurt reiterated.

Hurt said he has a lot of respect for Latta. The Lady Wolves pinned a 43-33 loss on Latta back in November. But both teams have changed a lot since that early-season matchup.

"Latta has a really good group. It's going to be a tough game between two good teams," Hurt said. "They're well-coached and have a lot of good players and we have a lot of good players too. It will come down to whoever shows up that day."

Latta head coach Clay Plunk said it should be a fun game for local fans to watch.

"Coach Hurt always has his teams ready, and we know it will be a battle. They've been in the state tournament consistently and know what it takes in playoffs. They've got so much size and length, they're a rough matchup," Plunk said. "But, our quickness can be a problem, too. Saying all that, I think we're ready for the challenge. We learned some things from our first matchup with them and hope to make the necessary adjustments this time around."

It is believed that the last time the Latta and Vanoss girls met in the playoff was back in 2018. That game was also played at a Class 2A Area Tournament hosted by Chickasha High School. The Lady Wolves won that contest thanks in part to a big game from then-freshman Emrie Ellis, who finished with eight points, 21 rebounds and 18 blocked shots.

Pontotoc County basketball fans can start their day at the State Fair Arena where the fifth-ranked Allen Lady Mustangs have a chance to pull off the upset of the season when they take on No. 1 Seiling at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Big House in the Class A State Tournament. Should Allen win that game, coach Dottie Slabaugh's bunch would be back at the Big House at 9 a.m. Friday for a Class A semifinal match.