The Lady Grangers showed first-game jitters, which included a lot of missed shots from under the basket, impatience moving the ball and too many mistakes, according to coach Jan Jones.
Still, LaGrange’s quickness and control of the lane was too much for the Lady Lions to overcome after being down by as many as 30 points in the second half.
After a halftime talk from Jones, the Grangers settled down and poured on the pressure, with senior point guard Brittany Tatum leading the way with a game-high 20 points.
“(We talked about) just keeping control of the tempo,” Jones said after the game. “I felt like there were times in the first half where we kept control, we’d get on a run and then we’d have a few turnovers and there would be a change of tempo, so I told them the biggest thing for us was going to be keep the flow of the game quick, fast and that’s going to work to our advantage and it did.”
Despite LaGrange’s quickness, Jones admits there were too many mistakes.
“We are pretty quick, but we also had a lot of turnovers which comes with being quick. Sometimes we’re too quick for our own good,” Jones said. “Defensively, that’s what’s going to get us where we need to be is the quickness on defense and staying out of foul trouble.”
Despite coming out rusty, including a lot of mishandling of the ball, the Lady Grangers’ full-court press rattled the Lions from the outset, and they led 26-13 at the half.
The second half was much sharper for LaGrange, including more of a controlled tempo, better shot selection and a smothering defense that forced several turnovers that led to fast-break points.
Steara Mitchell chipped in 16 points, including three 3-pointers, two of them in the first half. KaBrenna Smith added 12 points plus played a key role in policing the middle. Sophomore Andrea Heflin added five points.
LaGrange will host East Coweta at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.