The house figures to be rocking tonight.
The LaGrange Grangers (26-0) handled the visiting Carver Tigers 64-54 Thursday night in the semifinals of the Region 2-AAA tournament, earning a spot in tonight’s championship game against Kendrick.
Earlier in the day, LaGrange’s girls’ team lost out on a chance to play for a region crown when it lost to Northside 63-53.
For the boys’ game, it was a raucous atmosphere thanks to an enthused student section, and the intensity level figures to be ratcheted up a few notches for tonight’s game, which is set to tip off around 8:30 p.m.
LaGrange, which has already completed the first perfect regular season in school history, is gunning for its first region title since 2002.Kendrick hammered Shaw 68-49 to earn a title shot.
“The atmosphere tonight was great,” LaGrange head coach Mike Pauley said after the Carver win. “The crowd was into it.”
Pauley has said the home support has played a big part in the team’s success this season, and that was the case against a Carver team that has a losing record, but is nonetheless immensely talented.
“Every game can be like this,” Pauley said. “We expect no runaway games.”
It looked like it would be a runaway game, though, when the Grangers charged to a 52-33 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Carver hung tough, and when Jarvis Reese made a pair of free throws with 2:30 left, LaGrange’s once imposing lead was down to 57-50.
Antione Green answered with a bucket on the other end, and a Royal Thomas free throw with 1:44 left pushed the lead back to 10.
Carver came no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
LaGrange now turns its attention to Kendrick, which brings a 19-7 record into the showdown.
The Cherokees, the tournament’s second seed, only lost by four points to the Grangers on Jan. 26.
In the first meeting, which was held at LaGrange, the Grangers won 82-67 on Jan. 8.
“We’re concerned about their speed. We’re concerned about their height with their 6-9 guy,” Pauley said. “They’re hungry, and they should be. So are we.”
Whatever happens tonight, the Grangers will be at home for the first round of the state tournament on Feb. 26.
In Thursday’s girls’ game, the Lady Grangers got off a terrible start.
They were down 19-9 after the first quarter, and the deficit grew to 37-19 at the half.
The Lady Grangers came storming back in the third period, though, trimming Northside’s lead to 46-38 after three quarters.
LaGrange got as close as four points in the fourth period before Northside finally put it away.
“We came out a little slow. They’re a veteran team, and they played well,” LaGrange coach Jan Jones said. “I was proud of the way we fought back. We had a chance.”
In the first half, Jones said it was mostly a matter of Northside just getting really hot from the field.
“They were making everything,” Jones said. “There wasn’t much we could do.”
Freshman Brittany Tatum led the way with 14 points, while Arneshia Williams added 12 points.
Terryuana Godwin contributed eight points.
LaGrange will face Shaw today at 4 p.m., with the winner earning the region’s No. 3 seed for the state tournament.
LaGrange has beaten Shaw twice this season, but both games were close.
On Jan. 5, the Lady Grangers won 55-53, and they won the rematch 51-48 on Jan. 23.