Grangers rally for huge region road win

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 1, 2016

By Kevin Eckleberry

COLUMBUS – Things were looking bleak.

In a critical Region 1-AAAAA road game against the Shaw Raiders on Saturday, the LaGrange Grangers found themselves trailing by 17 points in the first half.

There was no panic, though.

The Grangers are a team capable of scoring points in bunches, and they had plenty of time to get back in the game.

Sure enough, the Grangers rallied to take the halftime lead, and they ended up holding on for a 63-61 victory.

It was a big win for the Grangers (19-4 overall), who remained in first place in Region 1-AAAAA by themselves with an 8-2 record.

If LaGrange had lost the game, it would have been in a three-way tie for first place.

LaGrange, which has two region games remaining, is one game ahead of Northside and Carver.

In Saturday’s games, the Grangers were trailing 28-11 in the second quarter, and everything was going the Raiders’ way.

LaGrange responded with a 22-4 run to take a 33-32 lead at the break.

Derieko Smith led the Grangers’ resurgence.

The senior guard made four consecutive 3-pointers during the 22-4 run, and he finished the first half with 18 points.

“They started off hot, and we had a hard time adjusting to some things,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “Then we got more aggressive, and Derieko got hot, and we got some defensive stops.”

By the time the third quarter ended, the Raiders had a 48-47 lead, and it remained close throughout the final period, with the Grangers finding a way to get the road win.

Shaw got a turnover with moments remaining, but a potential game-tying shot was blocked by LaGrange’s Kenan Gray, and the clock ran out.

“We were able to hold on,” Veal said. “It was a great mental and physical effort by our kids in a place that’s not easy to win.”

LaPerion Perry did some great work late for the Grangers, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Smith led the Grangers with 21 points, and Gray added 12 points.

In Saturday’s girls’ game, LaGrange lost 50-46.

Trailing 31-21 at the half, LaGrange outscored Shaw 12-4 in the the third period to get within two, and it remained close in the fourth quarter.

Chnairiea Strozier led LaGrange with 16 points, Aryan Dozier added 12 points, and Shania Woodard scored eight points.

LaGrange’s teams will visit Harris County on Tuesday before finishing the regular season at home against Northside on Friday.

The region tournament begins the following week.

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports