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Lady Grangers withstand late challenge

Hardaway’s comeback bid falls short

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

The LaGrange Lady Grangers turn up the defensive pressure during the second half of Tuesday’s home win over Hardaway. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_LHS1.jpgThe LaGrange Lady Grangers turn up the defensive pressure during the second half of Tuesday’s home win over Hardaway. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
LaGrange’s Aryan Dozier goes to the basket during Tuesday’s game against Hardaway. Dozier scored 23 points. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_LHS21.jpgLaGrange’s Aryan Dozier goes to the basket during Tuesday’s game against Hardaway. Dozier scored 23 points. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

LAGRANGE – There was a little more suspense than they were hoping for, but the LaGrange Lady Grangers kicked off their region schedule in winning fashion on Tuesday night.

After trailing by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, Hardaway got within five points late before LaGrange pulled away for a 65-56 win.

The Lady Grangers (7-4) moved to 1-0 in Region 1-AAAAA with the home win.

“I was really pleased with how we were playing until the last two minutes of the ballgame,” LaGrange head coach Jan Fendley said. “We lost a little bit of composure right there, and they hit some big shots. And we fouled them, and kept putting them on the free-throw line. And I had a couple of key players to foul out. So that made a difference, too.”

LaGrange’s Aryan Dozier and Chnaireia Strozier each had big games with 23 points, and Shania Wooodward contributed eight points.

The Lady Grangers came out strong.

With Strozier scoring nine points and Dozier adding six points, LaGrange was ahead 20-9 after the first quarter, and that lead grew to 33-19 at the half.

Hardaway got within seven points on a Tiffany Dixon 3-pointer with a little more than three minutes remaining in the third period, but LaGrange recovered and had a 47-36 lead as the fourth quarter began.

When Strozier made two free throws wtih 4:56 to play, the Lady Grangers had a 54-40 lead, and they were still up by 14 with three minutes remaining.

Hardaway wasn’t done.

The Lady Hawks went on a 10-1 run to make it a 61-56 game with 1:06 left on the clock.

After Blair Herrod made a free throw to put LaGrange ahead by six, Hardaway had the ball with a chance to get closer.

Erica Daniel then came up with a big steal for LaGrange, and she was fouled with 45 seconds to play.

Daniel made both free throws to give the Lady Grangers an eight-point lead, and Dozier made a free throw with 17 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.

“We were a little cold coming out of the halftime. We’ve got to get better at that,” Fendley said. “And we’ve got to finish a game.”

LaGrange will have road games against Columbus High on Friday and Carver on Saturday.

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