Balance a key for Lady Grangers

Published 12:55 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – For much of the season, it has been LaGrange’s big three of Aryan Dozier, Chnaireia Strozier and Shania Woodard doing the bulk of the scoring.

In some games this season, in fact, all of LaGrange’s points have come from those three players.

Friday night’s game was different.

Facing a strong Marist team in the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament, seven different LaGrange players scored, and every one of those points was critical in a 46-43 victory.

A player who hasn’t been doing much scoring this season, Zaria Russell, provided a massive contribution during Saturday’s win.

Russell, who was primarily a junior-varsity player this season, had eight points against Marist, and she hit the game-winning shot.

Russell scored four points in the fourth quarter as LaGrange caught and passed a strong Marist team.

“She shoots the ball really well,” LaGrange coach Stephen Tuck said. “She’s probably our best shooter, but she didn’t have a grasp of the offense quite yet, so it’s been hard to use her.”

Tuck said with the defense Marist was using, that some opportunities arose for Russell, and she took advantage of it.

“We just told her to get out there and do what she does best,” Tuck said.

Another player who hasn’t been scoring a whole lot this season, Shaq Sutton, also had a key hand in the win.

Sutton only scored two points, but they were big ones.

In the closing moment, Sutton made two free throws that helped clinch the victory.

“It was a situation where she was in and out of the game throughout the whole night,” Tuck said. “For her to be able to come in the end and knock down some free throws was big.”

Tuck said Sutton also did a nice job on the boards as always.

“She barely scores, but she’s probably our second-best rebounder,” Tuck said.

Strozier, a junior, who is oftentimes tasked with bringing the ball up the court, was LaGrange’s leading scorer with 12 points.

Dozier, a junior guard who is LaGrange’s leading scorer this season, added 11 points, and Woodard had eight points inside.

Russell, Sutton Chaquave’ayr Robinson and Demia Mitchell also scored for LaGrange.

LaGrange will be on the road against Cross Creek (Augusta) on Wednesday.

The winner advances to the elite eight.