Warriors make the plays
By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
The LaGrange Academy Warriors did everything necessary to win a close game.
In the final minute of Monday’s game against Oak Mountain, the Warriors didn’t turn the ball over, they played stellar defense, and they made their free throws.
The end result was a 66-61 home victory.
“We took care of the ball, and made our free throws, which has kind of been a problem all year for us,” LaGrange Academy coach Britt Gaylor said. “Chase (Wardlaw) made four, and Skyler (Jones) made two big ones.”
On the defensive end, Jamie Zurbunis made a huge play when he took a charge with 26 seconds left that helped preserve the victory.
“That was a huge charge,” Gaylor said. “We emphasize taking charges. We practice them, and he stepped up and make a big play.”
The Warriors were up by seven points midway through the fourth period, but Oak Mountain fought back and got within a point with 53 seconds remaining.
Wardlaw pushed the lead back to 62-59 when he made two free throws with 33 seconds left.
After Zurbunis took the charge, Wardlaw was fouled, and he made two more free throws, and the Warriors were up by five.
An Oak Mountain player missed two free throws with 14 seconds left, and moments later, Jones converted a pair of free throws to extend the lead to seven and put the game on ice.
Wardlaw continued to enjoy a huge senior season with 34 points, and Jones and Daniel Wardlaw added eight points apiece.
The Warriors were down 14-8 after the first period, but they outscored Oak Mountain 25-21 in the second quarter to get within two at the half.
In the third quarter, LaGrange outscored Oak Mountain 16-10 to build a 49-45 lead heading into the final period.
The Warriors then went up 54-47 three minutes into the fourth quarter, but Oak Mountain fought back and made a game of it, only to be turned away late.
Gaylor felt the team’s defense made the difference.
“The second half, we allowed 26 points,” he said. “That’s what won us the ballgame. Our defense in the second half was absolutely amazing.”
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