Grangers, Patriots set for rematch in region tourney
LAGRANGE – Here we go again.
One week ago, the LaGrange Grangers and Northside Patriots faced off in the final game of the regular season, and it was a thriller.
The Grangers ended up winning 71-68 in overtime when Mike Hardy converted a three-point play with just seconds remaining.
That was a big win for LaGrange.
It not only wrapped up the regular-season championship in Region 1-AAAAA, but it meant the Grangers (20-5) were going to be the host team for the semifinals and finals of the region tournament.
The semifinals will be held today, and LaGrange and Northside will play at 7:30 p.m.
Northside, the number four seed, outlasted Harris County 74-68 on Wednesday to advance to the semis and get another shot at LaGrange.
In today’s other semifinal, it’ll be second-seeded Carver taking on third-seeded Shaw.
The championship game will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
LaGrange and Northside split their two regular-season meetings.
In the first game, which was played in Columbus, it was Northside winning 53-50.
In the rematch, it was tied 68-68 late in overtime when Hardy went up and grabbed a rebound of a missed shot by Derieko Smith.
Almost in one motion, Hardy snared the rebound and made the go-ahead basket, and he was fouled in the process.
After Hardy made the free throw, Northside missed a desperation shot at the buzzer, and LaGrange had the win.
Hardy had 13 points in that game, and he had eight of those points in the first half.
Fellow post player Kenan Gray came up big with 18 points, and he had a scrambling save of a loose ball in the fourth quarter that led to a critical basket as LaGrange rallied to tie it and force overtime.
LaPerion Perry scored 13 points, and Gabe Duckett made three 3-pointers and had 11 points.
Since the previous two games against Northside were decided by a combined six points, LaGrange coach Mark Veal figures today’s game should be tight as well.
“It’ll be a good game,” Veal said. “Northside, they can do some good things offensively and defensively, and they rebound the ball very good. They have size at every position. Even their guards are tall.”
LaGrange will be the more rested team, and whether that’s a good thing or not will be determined tonight.
While the Grangers haven’t played since last week, the Patriots had a down-to-the-wire game against Harris County on Wednesday.
“You never know. It could be good, or it could be bad,” Veal said. “Northside, they’ve got a playoff game under their belt. We haven’t played in a week. We could come out rusty.”
Northside’s primary strength is its inside play, and with Gray and Hardy leading the way, LaGrange did a terrific job of standing tall in the paint.
Veal’s hope is that in today’s game, the post players will play well again, and that the guards find their shooting touch.
“They stepped it up,” Veal said of the inside players. “We didn’t shoot very good. It’d be nice to get the post play to step up, and we’re shooting the ball.”
Also today, both Callaway teams will play their semifinal games in the Region 5-AAA tournament at Central-Carroll.
The Lady Cavaliers (10-9) are the number two seed, and they’ll play third-seeded Pepperell at 4 p.m. today.
If Callaway wins, it would advance to Saturday’s championship game at 6 p.m., while also earning the right to host a state-tournament game next week.
Callaway swept the regular-season series from Pepperell, although both games were competitive.
Callaway won 59-52 at home on Jan. 15, and it won the rematch 56-49 on Feb. 2 to wrap up the region’s second spot.
In today’s other semifinal, Haralson County will play Rockmart.
On the boys’ side, Callaway will look to take a step toward a fourth consecutive region-tournament championship when it plays host Central-Carroll at 8:30 p.m.
The Cavaliers (16-3 overall) earned the number one seed by going 10-0 in region play in the regular season, and the Central-Carroll Lions are the fourth seed.
Callaway’s closest region game came on Jan. 8 when it won 84-76 on the road.
When the two teams met again on Jan. 26, Callaway steamrolled Central-Carroll 81-57.
Also today, Rockmart and Pepperell will play in the other boys’ semifinal.
The boys’ championhip game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports