LaGrange happy to be at home
By Kevin Eckleberry
They’re glad to be at home.
It’s been a grind for the LaGrange Grangers, who have not only faced a challenging schedule, but they’ve played eight of their 10 regular-season games away from home.
That pattern will change this week.
The Grangers are hosting the LaGrange Toyota Basketball Classic, and they’ll play home games on three consecutive days beginning with today’s showdown with McIntosh.
LaGrange plays Stone Mountain on Thursday and Harris County on Friday, and all three of its games will be at 7:30 p.m.
“You include the scrimmage, out of 11 games, nine have been on the road, and two at home,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “It’ll be kind of weird coaching in your own gym. I’m so used to coaching in other gyms.”
The Grangers made it through that difficult stretch with a 6-4 record, and they’ve won six of eight since opening with back-to-back losses.
The Grangers were hit hard by graduation following a stellar 2016-2017 season that included a third consecutive region championship and a trip to the state quarterfinals, but they have continued to succeed.
LaGrange has played three overtime games this season, and it has won them all.
“We have some seniors, but we’re youthful in experience,” Veal said. “Record-wise, there are some games where we feel like we should have won, but some games we could have lost. If you’re winning close games, that’s definitely something to build on. It’ll help us when we get into region play we hope.”
LaGrange’s two leading scorers are Bo Russell and Daz Williams, and fellow seniors Jay Benton and Covan Huzzie have also been consistent scorers.
In LaGrange’s most recent game, a 70-50 win over Forest Park, Williams made five 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Veal also said post players Jordan Ogletree and Earley Sanders, both of whom are getting their first significant varsity playing time, have performed admirably.
“Jordan Ogletree has stepped up and done well,” Veal said. “Early Sanders, he’s gone from playing freshman to varsity, and he’s done some nice things. He’s put a lot of work in, and our coaches have done a lot of work with him, and he’s starting to shine.”
As for this week’s games, two of the opponents are familiar to the Grangers.
LaGrange has already played McIntosh and Harris County, and it split those games.
LaGrange lost to McIntosh 52-44, and it beat Harris County 75-68 in overtime.
McIntosh, which hasn’t played since that game against LaGrange on Dec. 15, is 6-0 and ranked in the top 10 in Class AAAAAA.
Harris County is 3-7, but it has played an arduous schedule and has been competitive in most of its games, and Stone Mountain is 1-4.
Veal said all three games will be challenging for his team.
“McIntosh is a AAAAAA school, and unbeaten and sixth in the state. They do a good job up there. And they’re pretty good every year,” Veal said. “You’ve got Harris County, and (coach Patavious Sorrell is) doing a good job with them. They’ll probably be one of the better teams in their region. Their record probably doesn’t look as good because they’ve played really good non-region teams. And Stone Mountain, anytime you play in the Atlanta area, you’re playing somebody good every night.”
LAGRANGE TOYOTA BASKETBALL
6 p.m. – Harris County vs. Stone Mountain
7:30 p.m. – LaGrange vs. McIntosh
6 p.m. – McIntosh vs. Harris County
7:30 p.m. – LaGrange vs. Stone Mountain
6 p.m. – Stone Mountain vs. McIntosh
7:30 p.m. – LaGrange vs. Harris County