Grangers get road win to kick off season

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

NEWNAN – They opened a new season in style.

The LaGrange Grangers, who crushed Central-Carroll in a preseason game last week, made their regular-season debut on Monday at Newnan High and delivered another impressive performance.

The Grangers were behind after the first quarter, but they surged ahead in the second period, and they didn’t trail in the second half on the way to a 64-57 victory.

It was a balanced scoring effort, with Gabe Duckett and Derieko Smith leading the way with 12 points apiece, and Kenan Gray added 11 points.

A number of other players, including seniors Alex Dantzler and Qua Epps and juniors Jerious Freeman and Quez Jackson also made key contributions according to LaGrange head coach Mark Veal.

“We had some guys get in foul trouble a little bit in the first half, and we had some guys come in off the bench and extend the lead for us,” Veal said, referring to that quartet of players. “They came in and did a real good job. They came in and hit some shots, and did well in that regard.”

Veal said that Dantzler and Freeman combined to make four 3-pointers in the second quarter as LaGrange rallied to take the lead.

Dantzler, who was a junior-varsity player the past two seasons, has been an impact player for the Grangers in the first two games.

“We’re really proud of him,” Veal said. “He didn’t make the team his freshman year, and played (junior varsity) his 10th and 11th-grade year. And this year, he’s looking to be a valuable asset.”

Newnan led 18-15 after one quarter, but LaGrange rallied to take a 34-30 lead at the half.

It remained tight in the third period, with LaGrange maintaining a 47-43 advantage.

In the fourth quarter, the Grangers did a solid job from the free-throw line as they held on for the win.

While the Grangers have some experienced players who were a part of last year’s state quarterfinal team, there are a number of men getting their first taste of varsity action.

So far, the new players are handling things well.

“We had some guys, this is their first merry-go-round, this is their first experience,” Veal said. “Newnan has got a lot of guys coming back. They have experience. So that was good.”

LaGrange will look to keep its early-season success going when it hits the road once again today to take on Mundy’s Mill.

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports