Grangers’ Perry honored

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, March 23, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – LaPerion Perry made the most of his final season as a high-school basketball player.

Perry scored more than 20 points per game, and he was at his best when the stakes were the highest while leading the LaGrange Grangers to a 26-4 record, a region championship, and a berth in the state quarterfinals.

Perry’s great work didn’t go unnoticed.

Perry has been selected as the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Class AAAA North region player of the year.

Tye Fagan, who led Upson-Lee to an unbeaten season and a state championship, was the Class AAAA South player of the year.

Perry is joined on the North all-state team by Bryan Fanning, who had an exceptional senior season for the Grangers.

Callaway’s Braylon Sanders, who helped lead his team to the second round of the state tournament, earned a spot on the Class AA North all-state team.

The GACA all-state team is selected by coaches from across the state, and LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said that makes it particularly meaningful.

“There’s so many websites, and opinions by different people, but most of these people, they don’t watch all the kids,” Veal said. “Getting this award, this is by the coaches. As a whole, a lot of these coaches have seen a lot of the kids, or they know about them. It’s a tremendous award.”

Veal said Perry is fully deserving of this honor after the season he put together.

“He is one of the better players in the state,” Veal said. “It’s that plain and simple. He’s one of the best guards in the state of Georgia. He’s getting games where he had double-digit rebounds, or double-digit assists in addition to the points.”

Veal said one of Perry’s greatest strengths was his ability to be at his best when the most was on the line.

One of Perry’s best games came in the second round of the state tournament when he scored 32 points against Richmond Academy to help put his team in the elite eight.

“I think back to some of the big shots he made against very good teams,” Veal said. “It was amazing some of the stuff he was able to do.”

Perry began the season having not done a whole lot basketball-wise for a while.

Perry had hip surgery during the summer, and he missed the first half of the football season while he recovered.

By the time he joined the basketball team in late November, it had been about six months since he’d played, but he showed no signs of rust.

“He basically didn’t play March through November,” Veal said. “It took him a few games, but what an amazing season he had. He was stepping up in so many games. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Fanning also had a big season for the Grangers.

A versatile post player, Fanning had the ability to score inside or knock down mid-range jumpers, and he was also an effective passer and rebounder.

“I talked to a lot of coaches, and they said we didn’t realize Bryan Fanning was that good until we played y’all,” Veal said. “Bryan stepped up in some of the big games.”

For Callaway, Sanders put the cap on a remarkable high-school career with a strong senior season.

Sanders’ most memorable moment came in the first round of the state tournament when he hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer of a 62-60 win over Coosa.

Sanders, who finished that game with 18 points, drove to the basket and lofted the ball over the outstretched hands of a Coosa defender for the game-winner.

Sanders was a four-year starter at Callaway, and he was a part of three region-championships teams, as well as teams that made it to the semifinals and the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Perry, Fanning and Sanders will all be playing on the next level.

Perry will be a football and basketball player at West Georgia, while Sanders will be a wide receiver for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Fanning has offers to play college basketball, and he is still weighing his options.