INDIANAPOLIS – By this time next year, he will have completed his first year on the gridiron for Kevin Wilson’s Indiana Hoosiers.
After all North Central’s Darius Latham is considered among the best defensive tackles in the state and could figure immediately into the plans in Bloomington.
But for one more basketball season, he will try to make some more high school memories in his time as a forward for Doug Mitchell’s Panthers. Count on Friday as being one of the better ones.
Latham grabbed a rebound and put back in the game-winning shot for North Central against Lawrence North, giving the Panthers a stunning last minute 59-57 victory over the Wildcats on their home floor.
“I just shot the ball, I was just trying to get it up and score,” said Latham of the last play of the ball game, when he managed to get the rebound and hit an off-balance shot as time expired.
The shot improved the Panthers to 8-4 on the season and takes the way the sting of an early exit in the Marion County Tournament at the hands of Ben Davis ten days earlier.
Another defeat nearly came at the hands of Lawrence North a number of times in a back-and-forth second half that saw neither team take a lead bigger than four. An ally-oop slam by John McCloud, who finished with 14 points, gave the Wildcats a three point lead early in the quarter.
North Central rallied again and took the lead with under two minutes to go when Eron Gordon hit a three-pointer, the last of his game-high 22 points, to put the Panthers up by three. After a Lawrence North bucket, Latham hit a pair of free throws to put the Panthers up three in the final 30 seconds.
Michael Parker Jr. was able to get Lawrence North even with ten seconds to go when he hit a corner three-pointer off the inbounds pass to tie the game at 57. After a timeout, North Central passed the ball into Latham, who missed his first attempt at the basket but the rebound went to the opposite corner and to Perry Poindexter.
He put up a shot that grazed the rim and went back towards Latham. The forward put his hands in the air and grabbed the ball and shot it while falling away, hitting nothing but net on the attempt. Officials conferred after time had expired to see if any time was left on the clock for one more Lawrence North try but they concluded the game was over.
“It’s good to get a win and bounce back from losing early in county,” said Latham of the win. “Just try to keep winning from here on out.”