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Ivory Latta, a former basketball sensation at York Comprehensive High School and South Carolina's career scoring leader for girls and boys, is spearheading the Tulsa Shock's rise to respectability in the WNBA.
Having finished with the worst record in WNBA history last season, Tulsa has won eight games this year, including the last two.
Latta, who became a national icon while earning All-America honors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the Shock's leading scorer this season, and a fan favorite in Tulsa and around the WNBA.
The McConnells native scored 11 of her team-leading 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Shock past the Phoenix Mercury 92-84 last Friday.
Latta stepped to the forefront again in Sunday's 80-70 win over the San Antonio Stars. The flamboyant playmaking guard and floor leader scored 15 points in the Shock's 80-70 upset of the Stars Sunday.
Latta hit a pull-up jump shot with 1:37 left in the game, staking the Shock to a 76-68 advantage.
The highlight of the season for Latta, perhaps, was her pull-up jumper in the waning seconds of an 84-80 win over the Dream in Atlanta.
Latta had become the face of the Atlanta Dream her second year in the WNBA until the general manager and coach rejected the pro star, limiting her playing time in favor of a role player.
But Latta persevered like she has done at various stages of her career and has become a huge fan favorite in the city of Tulsa.
Paula Blackwell, head coach of the Lady Cougars, was an assistant coach when Latta led the YCHS team to the state championship in 2002.
“Ivory is an electrifying athlete and the way she plays the game, plus her contagious personality, makes it hard not to catch her play every chance you get,” Blackwell said. “She has always helped our community anytime I've asked.”
Blackwell said plans are being made to honor the Lady Cougar state championship team on Dec. 11.
“Ivory is looking at her schedule to make sure she's here to celebrate with her teammates and the town,” said Blackwell. “She is a once-in-a-lifetime player, but I do hope we have another one 'in the works' in York School District One.”
The Tulsa Shock's final two games of the season can be seen on NBA-TV. The Shock will face New York at 1 p.m. Saturday and Indiana at 4 p.m. Sunday, both on the popular NBA-TV network.
Area fans wishing to find out more about Latta's impact in Tulsa can go to www.tulsashock.net.