A game the LaGrange Grangers appeared to have in the bag was suddenly in doubt.
With less than two minutes remaining in Saturday’s game against Sandy Creek, the Grangers had an 11-point lead, and they appeared headed for a big region win.
The game wasn’t over, though, far from it.
The Patriots came soaring back, and with 13 seconds left in the game, they had the ball down by just two points.
The Grangers needed someone to step up and make a play, and LaPerion Perry obliged.
Sandy Creek’s Brandon Lindsey got the ball in the corner, and he lined up a 3-point attempt that, if successful, would have given his team the lead, and probably the victory.
Perry was on the spot.
The freshman guard came up with a game-saving blocked shot that sealed the Patriots’ fate.
LaGrange walked away with a 56-54 victory while making a major statement in the region.
The Grangers (11-10 overall) improved to 5-5 in Region 5-AAAA, while the Patriots (15-5 overall) dropped to 6-3 in the region.
“I was going to be sick to my stomach if they’d stolen that one from us. We really played a good ballgame,” LaGrange coach Mike Pauley said. “They worked so hard together.”
When Mike Hardy scored with 1:30 remaining, the Grangers were up 55-44, and they were rolling.
The Patriots roared back, though, and when Lindsey drained a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, the Grangers’ lead was down to 56-52.
Moments later, after a LaGrange turnover, Jalen Lee made a pair of free throws, and Sandy Creek was within two.
LaGrange then turned the ball over again, and Sandy Creek got the ball down by just two points.
“We missed five out of six free throws. That’s why we were there. And our press break, they were doing a couple of things that really made it hard, and we really didn’t make very good adjustments,” Pauley said. “Our coaching staff has to do a better job of helping them. That’s one of the first things we’re going to work on tomorrow.”
Rather than go for the tie, the Patriots tried to win the game on a Lindsey 3-pointer, but they were denied by Perry.
“He made a play,” Pauley said. “That was fantastic.”
Smith led the Grangers with 19 points, with 13 of those points coming in the first half.
Perry added 11 points.
LaGrange will return to the court on Tuesday for a game at Troup.