The LaGrange Grangers took the fight to the Fayette County Tigers Saturday afternoon.
In the Region 5-AAAA showdown, the Grangers led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, and they had an eight-point lead early in the fourth period.
In the end, though, the experienced and talented Tigers were a bit too much for the homestanding Grangers.
The Tigers (10-2, 2-1 in region play) finished the game on a 13-3 run to claim a 64-54 victory over the Grangers (7-7, 1-3).
Despite the loss, there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Grangers, who stood toe-to-toe with one of the region’s elite teams.
“We brought it tonight,” LaGrange coach Mike Pauley said. “We played like a varsity team tonight. There was nothing to be ashamed of about this.”
Early on, Fayette County was in control.
The Tigers scored the first 10 points of the game, and they were up 23-16 after the first quarter.
The Tigers went back up by 10 early in the second quarter, but the Grangers went on a 13-0 run to take the lead.
Derieko Smith made a 3-pointer to tie it, and Danterrious Bray made another one from long distance to put LaGrange up 29-26.
By the half, LaGrange was ahead 33-29.
The Grangers came out of the locker room hot, scoring the first six points of the third period to take a 39-29 lead.
By the close of the quarter, LaGrange was ahead 44-38.
The Grangers extended the lead to eight early in the fourth period, and that’s when the Tigers came storming back.
Fayette County used an 8-0 to tie it at 46-46 with 6:30 left in the game, and it was still tied at 51-51 with less than three minutes remaining when momentum really turned in the favor of the visiting team.
With 2:42 showing on the clock, Fayette County’s C.J. Johnson scored, and he was also fouled on the play.
It was ruled an intentional foul, so Johnson got to take two free throws, and the Tigers kept the ball.
Johnson made both free throws to complete a four-point play, and Donovan Culver made two more free throws with 2:23 remaining to give Fayette County a 57-51 lead.
LaPerion Perry scored with 1:55 left to get the Grangers within four, but Clark Minnifield made a pair of free throws with 1:04 left to push the lead back to six.
The Tigers led by at least six points the rest of the way, and they ended up winning by 10.
Smith led LaGrange with 13 points, and Walter Shelton added 10 points.
Chaz Berry had a big night for Fayette County with 26 points, with 13 of those points coming in the first quarter.
Berry made six 3-pointers.
In Saturday’s girls’ game, LaGrange lost 45-24.
The Lady Grangers were only down 9-5 after the first quarter, and they trailed 22-12 at the half.
Fayette County’s lead was 31-17 through three periods, and it pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Andrea Heflin led LaGrange with nine points, Kayla Smith paced Fayette County with 13 points.
Although the outcome wasn’t what LaGrange head coach Jan Jones was hoping for, she felt the effort was better than it was in Friday’s blowout loss to Alexander.
“We definitely played harder today than we did (Friday),” Jones said. “The attitude and effort was better today. We have to fight every quarter.”
LaGrange’s teams will be on the road Tuesday against Sandy Creek.