Grangers take big first step

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

December 27, 2013

A year ago, the LaGrange Grangers were denied a chance to play for a tournament championship by W.D. Mohammed.

The two teams met in the second round of the LaGrange Toyota Basketball Classic, and W.D. Mohammed won a close game to earn a shot at the title.

Flash forward a year and the teams were playing again, this time in an opening-round game, and LaGrange made sure the outcome would be a different one this time around.

The Grangers soared to a huge early lead, and they never let the Caliphs back into the game on the way to a 66-46 victory.

LaGrange used a stifling defensive effort, and a red-hot offense to take a 21-3 lead, and it was up 28-7 after the first quarter.

W.D. Mohammed made a bit of a run to get within 11 in the second period, but LaGrange was back ahead by 20 at the half, and the outcome was never in doubt after that.

W.D. Mohammed has two guards averaging close to 50 points between them, and LaGrange head coach Mike Pauley said the triangle-and-two defense the team used was designed to slow them down.

“Our whole deal was to get them out of sync, and we did,” Pauley said. “Everytime they touched the ball, and they started to penetrate, we ran a double team. I realize they got a couple of baskets, but they really were out of flow.”

While the defense was shutting down a high-powered W.D. Mohammed offense, LaGrange’s players were making just about every shot they took.

LaPerion Perry and Derieko Smith made back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Grangers an early 6-0 lead, and they kept pouring it on from there.

When Walter Shelton scored the Grangers were up 10-0, and a Dy Dunlap 3-pointer pushed the lead to 16-2 with 3:15 left in the opening quarter.

Smith and Danterrious Bray later connected on consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead to 24-3, and the lead was 28-7 after the first quarter.

W.D. Mohammed got within 11 in the second quarter, but LaGrange closed the half on a 9-0 run to go up 41-21.

“We had subbed a bunch of kids, and we went right back with our starters, and they went right back after it, and that was kind of nice,” Pauley said.

LaGrange’s defense continue to stymie W.D. Mohammed in the third quarter, and the lead was 53-28 through three periods.

In the fourth quarter, Pauley was able to empty the bench with the victory in hand.

Smith led LaGrange with 14 points, and Dante Hill and Shelton added 12 and 11 points, respectively.