Academy seniors lead the way

Published 5:00 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – He found his range.

LaGrange Academy’s Nick Keating has always been able to knock down shots during practice according to head coach Britt Gaylor, but he has struggled at times finding the net during games.

That wasn’t the case earlier this week, with Keating scoring 27 points to lead his team to a big 63-58 home win over Solid Rock Academy.

Keating will look to keep it going tonight as LaGrange Academy takes on Bethlehem Christian in a GISA Region 1-AA game.

Before the game, the team’s seniors will be honored, and that’s a group that includes Keating, Lincoln Anderson, Brandon Haynes and Case Dougherty.

The Warriors are in the home stretch of the regular season, and they’re looking to improve their position in the region.

A win tonight would help.

LaGrange Academy lost a close one to Bethlehem Christian earlier this season on the road.

“Us and Bethlehem Christian always play close games,” LaGrange Academy coach Britt Gaylor said. “There’s seeding on the line.”

Keating is hoping to have another big game.

He was unstoppable in Monday’s game, and he said it just a matter of coming in with the confidence that he could get the job done.

“I just decided that it was going to be a hard game, so I just decided to be confident with my shot,” Keating said. “That’s what coach had been telling me to do. I just thought, shoot it, and know it’s going in.”

Anderson, a standout post player, is LaGrange Academy’s leading scorer, and things open up even more for him when the team is hitting shots from the outside.

“That’s what we need, is for somebody else to step up, and (Keating has) that confidence now,” Gaylor said.

While Keating has been with the program since he was in the eighth grade, this is Anderson’s second season at LaGrange Academy.

Anderson has obviously made a major contribution as a basketball player, and he helped lead the Warriors to the state quarterfinals a year ago, but Gaylor said he has been a huge addition to the school beyond what he does when he’s on the court.

“He’s a phenomenal kid,” Gaylor said. “Everybody loves him. All the teachers love him. The best thing about him is, he knows everybody in school. Every day I walk in the library, and he’s talking to a kindergartner. That’s awesome. All the little kids love him, too.”

Keating is the only current member of the team that has been with the program for five years.

“There’s only been one person who has been with me since the eighth grade, and that’s Brandon, but he left last year before coming back,” Keating said. “It’s been a long time, but it still feels short.”

Haynes was at LaGrange Academy from the eighth grade to his sophomore season.

He was at Troup for one year before returning to LaGrange Academy as a senior.

“He’s contributed in a lot of different ways,” Gaylor said of Haynes. “He’s a good athlete. He’s somebody that we move around a lot defensively, because he can do a lot of different things. He’s been really helpful for us.”

Dougherty has been a key member of the team this season, although he’s out of action right now with an injury.

LaGrange Academy will finish the regular season next week, and then it will be on to the region tournament.

The Warriors have played a challenging schedule, and Keating believes that will have the team prepared for the tough games to come.

“Our goal wasn’t to get a perfect record,” Keating said. “Our goal was to get prepared for the region tournament, and the state tournament. It wasn’t really about the record. It was about seeing what we needed to see before we get there.”

The top five teams in the region are all fairly even, and only four of the will qualify for the state tournament.

“Whichever four come out of the region will be so prepared for the state tournament,” Gaylor said. “We’ve all played each other close, or beat each other, so it’s going to be fun.”