Perfect Grangers win thriller over Cavs
LAGRANGE – They were pushed to the brink, but the LaGrange Grangers are still perfect.
Facing the Callaway Cavaliers for the second time in four days, the Grangers found themselves in a dogfight on their home floor Tuesday night.
The Grangers were down by three points with a little more than two minutes to play, but they responded by finishing the game on an 8-2 run to edge the Cavaliers 63-60.
The Grangers, who beat the Cavaliers 80-68 on Saturday, improved to 7-0 heading into Friday’s showdown at Troup.
“You play this game of basketball, you’ve got to be lucky,” LaGrange coach Mark Veal said. “We were very fortunate to win tonight. They played well, and we didn’t play as good (as Saturday’s game). We got some breaks down the stretch. It went back-and-forth for the last two minutes, and we were fortunate to win. They’re a very good team.”
For Callaway, the game was there for the taking.
The Cavaliers still had the lead with less than a minute remaining, but they were unable to hold off the Grangers.
Callaway head coach Terry Hayes felt his team’s defensive effort was better than it was during Saturday’s game, but it wasn’t enough.
“We couldn’t execute down the stretch,” Hayes said. “We played better defense. Down the stretch, we turned the ball over at critical times, and missed some easy shots.”
LaPerion Perry, whose layup with 47 seconds left gave the Grangers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, led his team with 18 points, and Derieko Smith added 15 points.
Dre Martin had a big game for Callaway with 21 points, and Ernest Patillo contributed 15 points.
With Patillo scoring five points in the first period, the Cavaliers surged to a 15-10 lead, but the Grangers rallied in the second quarter to take a 29-25 lead at the half.
The Grangers led by as many as six points early in the third period, but the Cavaliers went on a 9-0 run to take the lead.
Martin scored seven consecutive points during that run, and his 3-pointer with 4:37 left in the third quarter tied the game at 34-34.
After JT Wortham’s 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a three-point lead, Smith’s shot from long distance moments later deadlocked things once again.
It remained tight for the rest of the period, and by the time the fourth quarter began, LaGrange was clinging to a 45-44 lead.
In a hotly-contested fourth quarter, neither team led by more than three points, and the lead changed hands six times.
Callaway led by three points when Patillo scored with 2:10 remaining, but LaGrange reclaimed a one-point lead when Perry scored with 1:26 to play.
Patillo answered with another basket with 1:02 to play, and Callaway led 60-59.
Then with 47 seconds to play, Perry got to the basket and made a layup, and LaGrange was back on top by one.
Twice in the final minute the Cavaliers had a chance to take the lead with a basket, but they were unable to convert.
After Mike Hardy made a free throw with three seconds left, the Cavaliers had the ball with 2.8 seconds to play and down by three, but a desperation shot from halfcourt missed, and the Grangers had the win.
While LaGrange heads to Troup on Friday, Callaway will be at home that same day to play Harris County.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports