Basketball practice gets started

Published 10:22 pm Monday, October 30, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It’s hoops time.

While a new basketball season is still a few weeks away, the local teams were on the court on Monday as preseason practice officially kicked off.

The boys’ and girls’ teams from Callaway, LaGrange and Troup got things started, while the teams from LaGrange Academy and Lafayette Christian School are also preparing for a new season.

At Troup, there will be a new coach leading the way, with Blake Craft taking over the program from Paul Brewer.

Craft inherits a veteran team that reached the state tournament last season before falling to Blessed Trinity in the first round.

Craft, a 2012 graduate of LaGrange College, has been an assistant coach at LaGrange High the past few years, and he was a part of a program that won three straight region championships.

When Craft found out about the opening at Troup, he went for it.

“This is my goal to be a head coach,” Craft said. “My wife’s form here, and she didn’t really want to move. So I thought, I’m going to go for it.”

Among Troup’s top players is Jarrious Jefferson, who is expected to be one of the top point guards in Region 5-AAAA.

Troup’s girls’ team will once again be led by Carla Thornton, who led the team to a winning record and a berth in the state tournament last year.

Like the boys’ team, Troup’s girls’ squad is a veteran unit as well with seniors Shaqoya Gilbert, Jedda Madden and Kiya Fulton leading the way.

At LaGrange, the boys’ team will be going for a fourth consecutive region championship, although head coach Mark Veal will lead an inexperienced squad.

Most of the players from last season’s team graduated, and six of them are playing college basketball.

Among the top returnees for LaGrange is guard Bo Russell.

LaGrange’s girls’ team finished second in its region last year, and head coach Stephen Tuck will have a veteran group this season.

Leading the way is the outstanding combo of senior guards Aryan Dozier and Chnaireia Strozier, who have both been starting since they were freshmen.

At Callaway, coach Terry Hayes will look to keep the boys’ program flying high.

The Cavaliers had won four consecutive region titles before finishing second to the Heard County Braves a year ago.

Gone is four-year starter and former all-state player Braylon Sanders, but most of the other players are returning, although most of them won’t join the basketball team until football season ends.

Callaway’s girls’ team has become a consistent winner under head coach Deyano Martin, and the veteran team could be poised to do some big things this season.

Among the top returning players is senior Chyna Cameron, an outstanding post player who has been starting since she was a freshman.

On the private-school level, LaGrange Academy has a new boys’ coach, with Will Long taking over after the departure of Britt Gaylor.

The Warriors will have to replace Lincoln Anderson, who is now at LaGrange College, but Long will have some talented guards to work with, including Mason Brown who’ll be a focal point of this season’s team.

Mel Major returns as LaGrange Academy’s girls coach, and he’ll lead an experienced group onto the court.

Among the players Major will be counting on this season is guard Laney Anderson, who helped lead the Lady Warriors to the state tournament a year ago.

At Lafayette Christian School, Jarred Pike will lead the boys’ team, and he’ll have an experienced squad

The Cougars won a state championship in 2016 before following that up with another winning season.

Paula Johnson will coach the Lafayette Christian girls’ team, with senior Abbey Hudson leading the way.