Facing Madison County in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament Wednesday night, the Grangers broke open a close game in the third quarter on the way to a 66-45 home victory.
Next up will a second-round test against a Columbia High team that has won three straight state championships, a run that began with a win over LaGrange in the 2010 title game.
The game will be Saturday at LaGrange, and the time hasn’t yet been determined.
The Grangers (22-6) are hot, with Wednesday’s victory giving them an eight-game winning streak.
Madison County (7-18) had a tough season, but it pulled off a quarterfinal upset in the Region 8-AAAA tournament to make it to state.
The Red Raiders hung tough for awhile against the Region 5-AAAA-champion Grangers, and they were within three with five minutes to go in the third period after a 3-pointer by T.J. Skelton.
Beginning with a 3-pointer by Justyn Olson with 3:50 left in the quarter, though, the Grangers were off to the races.
The Grangers finished the third quarter on a 14-2 run to build a 48-33 lead, and they continued to pour it on in the fourth period.
“At halftime, we asked them to do a better job taking care of the boards, and it looked like we cleaned the boards up,” LaGrange head coach Mike Pauley said. “And we finished some shots we weren’t finishing earlier. That was helpful.”
It also helped to have Olson, who had a game-high 21 points, with 11 of those points coming in the decisive third period.
Olson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to help LaGrange take control.
“I like the fact that we’ve been able to pitch it to him and he’s knocked a couple of shots down,” Pauley said. “When you have guys that can knock down shots, it gives you a chance.”
Kwame Brown and Drew Moody each added eight points for the Grangers.