The new-look LaGrange Lady Grangers took care of business Tuesday night.
Taking on visiting Upson-Lee in a preseason game, the Lady Grangers used a strong finish to capture a one-sided 53-30 victory.
Upson-Lee was within nine points through three periods, and the outcome was still in doubt, but LaGrange dominated the final quarter to win going away.
The team is having to replace most of the key players from last year’s team that went 22-7, finished second in the Region 5-AAAA tournament and advanced to the second round of the state tournament.
A gifted group of six seniors, including Brittany Tatum, the program’s all-time leading scorer, graduated, and it’s up to a new group of players to keep the good times rolling.
“This is it. We don’t have a senior on the court. There’s not one,” LaGrange head coach Jan Jones said after Tuesday’s game. “They don’t have time to sit back. They have to come on the court ready to play.”
One of the players who did see significant playing time a year ago, Andrea Heflin, stepped up in a big way and led the team with 22 points.
Freshman Shania Woodard had eight points in her varsity debut, and junior Taydra Holt added seven points.
Upson-Lee was hanging in there through three quarters, down by just nine points, but LaGrange scored the first six points of the fourth period, capped by a 3-pointer from Heflin.
The Lady Grangers continued to pull away for the one-sided win.
“I think we were nervous the first half, because we didn’t play well at all,” Jones said. “We weren’t doing any of the things we’ve done in practice. The second half, we got comfortable, and hit some big shots. Andrea got hot and hit some shots when we needed them, and we hit some free throws down the stretch that helped expand the lead for us.”
Jones said while there is still a lot of work left to do, she has been extremely impressed with the effort all of the players have given.
“They play hard. That’s the biggest thing,” Jones said. “I feel like if we can start to learn our assignments, the playing hard and the mental toughness is going to be there. We have to start understanding the game a little better.”
LaGrange will be on the road against East Coweta on Tuesday.