Grangers win thriller

Published 10:23 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

Bo Russell poured in 29 points and hit the go-ahead free throw with eight seconds remaining to help the LaGrange Grangers get a 72-71 win over McIntosh on Wednesday.

McIntosh came into the game unbeaten and ranked in the top 10 in the state in Class AAAAAA, and it beat LaGrange 52-44 earlier this season.

The second time around, it was the Grangers securing the win to open their stay in the LaGrange Toyota Basketball Classic in style while improving to 7-4.

“It was very big,” Russell said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, and we just fought through it tonight and got the win.”

McIntosh tied it at 71-71 with 20 seconds remaining on a dunk by Cole Guenther.

LaGrange pushed the ball down the court, and Russell was fouled, sending him to the line for two free throws with eight seconds to play.

Russell made the first free throw and missed the second, and McIntosh got the rebound.

The Grangers contested a potential game-winning shot on the other end, and the ball fell harmlessly off the rim and time expired.

“It’s our best win of the year,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “We beat a good team. Like I told our guys, we had the lead and lost it, and we came back and took the lead and they lost it again. We never folded.”

Russell had his way with McIntosh’s defense, seemingly getting to the rim whenever he wanted to, and he also had two break-away dunks that brought the home fans to their feet.

Fellow senior Covan Huzzie also had an effective night for the Grangers with 14 points, and he made two 3-pointers and scored eight points during the critical fourth quarter.

Jalen Watson had the hot hand in the first half with three 3-pointers in the second quarter, and he finished with 11 points.

Daz Williams added nine points, and he made a pair of 3-pointers.

Garrett LeClaire led McIntosh with 16 points, and he had eight points in the fourth quarter to help keep his team in the game.

Trailing 13-12, the Grangers went on an 11-0 run at the start of the second period to build a 10-point lead.

With three seconds left in the first half, Williams hit a 3-pointer, and LaGrange took a 36-23 lead to the break.

A McIntosh team that hadn’t played in nearly two weeks figured to heat up in the second half, and that’s what happened.

The Chiefs scored 27 points in the third quarter and held the lead at one point, but the Grangers ended the period on a 4-0 run to take a 53-50 lead.

It remained tight in the fourth quarter, and the Grangers were trailing by a point when Earley Sanders made two free throws to give the home team a 66-65 lead with 2:31 to play.

After the Chiefs went back up by one, Russell drove and scored with 2:05 to play to give the Grangers a one-point lead, and Huzzie’s 3-pointer with 1:20 left pushed the lead to four.

Back came the Chiefs, who scored the next four points to deadlock the score at 71-71.

Russell’s free throw gave the Grangers the lead once again, this time for good.

“We played a great team tonight, and we had a great win,” Veal said.

LaGrange will be back home today to play Stone Mountain at 7:30 p.m..

Harris County and McIntosh will meet at 6 p.m. today.

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