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Local cheerleading teams shine in state finals

COLUMBUS – What a way to finish.

The LaGrange and Troup cheerleading teams wrapped up their respective seasons by earning top-five finishes in the Class AAAA state finals on Saturday.

LaGrange placed third, and Troup finished fourth.

After the final 16 teams had performed, the top six teams were called to the mat, and LaGrange and Troup were among them.

LaGrange and Troup earned their spots in the state finals with stellar routines on Friday in the state sectional.

Troup finished first out of 16 teams in the state sectional, and LaGrange was second.

Both teams then delivered exceptional performances on Saturday to finish among the top teams in the state.

LaGrange finished the season with three first-place finishes, as well as two runner-up results.

It was also a stellar season for Troup, which was at or near the top in all of its events and finished first twice.

OF NOTE: For much more on the state finals, including photos, see Tuesday’s sports section.

BASKETBALL: With Kenan Gray doing his best Dwight Howard imitation, the LaGrange Grangers eased past Heard County 56-36 last week in a preseason game.

It was also a winning night for the LaGrange girls’ team, which pulled away in overtime for a 56-48 win.

In the boys’ game, the 6-foot-6 Gray controlled the inside, and while he didn’t have a big scoring night, he pulled down 17 rebounds.

LaPerion Perry, who recently finished playing quarterback for the football team, had 13 points, as did fellow senior Gabe Duckett.

LaGrange led 30-13 at the half, and it maintained a comfortable lead throughout the second half.

“We played well,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “We just didn’t shoot the ball good from the perimeter, and we didn’t shoot free throws very well. But I thought we did a lot of the right things. We were taking good shots, and we were attacking the rim, which let us get to the free-throw line. I thought defensively and rebounding we did really well.”

Veal said the best thing about the preseason game was it allowed the full team to get some time on the court.

“LaPerion hadn’t played since February,” Veal said. “We’ve got guys who have been playing football. We’re just trying to get everybody back in the mix.”

In the girls’ game, LaGrange outscored Heard County by eight points in overtime to win going away.

“We played really good defense in overtime, and took some smart shots,” LaGrange coach Stephen Tuck said. “And we rebounded well in overtime.”

Junior Aryan Dozier had a monster effort for the Lady Grangers with 37 points, accounting for more than half of her team’s scoring.

“She shot well from the free-throw line,” Tuck said. “And we’re encouraging her to take a couple more threes. And she hit a couple of them. That also kind of opened things up for her inside.”

LaGrange’s teams will play their regular-season openers on Nov. 21 when they host Newnan, and they’ll be back at home on Nov. 22 against Houston County.

WRESTLING: Troup opened its season by going 4-1 in a dual-format tournament at East Coweta on Saturday.

Troup beat Woodland-Conyers, Clarke Central, Carrollton and Lee County.

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

LaGrange High’s Kenan Gray dunks during last week’s win over Heard County in a preseason game. Gray had 17 rebounds. Photo by Pat Briggs

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/11/web1_LHS1.jpgLaGrange High’s Kenan Gray dunks during last week’s win over Heard County in a preseason game. Gray had 17 rebounds. Photo by Pat Briggs

LaGrange’s Aryan Dozier scored 37 points during last week’s overtime win against Heard County in a preseason game. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/11/web1_LHS3.jpgLaGrange’s Aryan Dozier scored 37 points during last week’s overtime win against Heard County in a preseason game. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com