LaGrange alone in first place
Published 1:14 pm Friday, January 19, 2018
By Kevin Eckleberry
They’re halfway home, and the LaGrange Lady Grangers are leading the way in Region 5-AAAA.
LaGrange reached the midpoint of its region schedule on Saturday with a 44-27 road win over Chapel Hill.
LaGrange improved to 6-0 in the region, and it is one game ahead of Sandy Creek (5-1).
Those two teams played last week, and it was LaGrange rolling to a 60-36 victory in a rematch of last year’s region-championship game.
Sandy Creek was short-handed, but it may not have mattered even if it had been at full strength.
LaGrange outscored Sandy Creek by 16 points in the second quarter to take a 34-12 lead, and it continued to pour it on in the second half.
As is so often the case with LaGrange with its outstanding guard play, its pressure defense helped make the difference.
“To be able to get the turnovers with our press, that kind of made everything go,” LaGrange head coach Stephen Tuck said.
Aryan Dozier led LaGrange with 17 points, and Katelyn Hill made four 3-pointers and scored 12 points.
It was Hill who helped ignite LaGrange in the first half when the offense was struggling a bit.
“I looked at Katelyn and said we need offense, and she hit four threes. I’m happy for her, because she’s been working hard in practice. It’s good to see that.”
Sandy Creek, the defending region champion, is alone in second place in the region, but Troup and Central-Carroll are close behind at 3-2.
Troup was 1-2 in the region following hard-fought road losses to Sandy Creek and LaGrange, but it followed that up with back-to-back wins.
On Saturday, Troup moved above .500 in the region with an impressive 47-31 win over Central-Carroll.
The two teams played in a holiday tournament and Central-Carroll won a close one, but the rematch was all Troup, which got 19 points from senior Jedda Madden in the win.
Madden scored 16 of those points in the third quarter as Troup took over.
Troup gets it done with a stingy defense that usually holds opponents to 40 or fewer points, and a balanced offense that gets better game by game.
Troup headed into the season short-handed.
Shaqoya Gilbert was expected to be one of Troup’s top players and a prolific scorer, but she is spending her senior season at Lafayette Christian School.
While the Lady Tigers may not be scoring as many points as they would have with Gilbert, they’re still finding ways to win.
“A lot of people doubted us when we lost Shaqoya, but we can still do a lot of damage in this region,” Troup head coach Carla Thornton said.
Cedartown is in fifth place in the region at 2-3, while Cartersville (1-4) and Chapel Hill (0-5) are bringing up the rear.
On the boys’ side of the region, Cartersville holds down the top spot with a 5-0 record, while LaGrange is second at 4-2.
LaGrange and Cartersville have played once, and it was a thriller.
LaGrange had a double-digit lead in the second half, but Cartersville rallied for a 64-60 victory.
LaGrange has won three in a row since then, and that includes a pair of one-point wins over Troup and Sandy Creek as well as a road win over Chapel Hill.
The Grangers, despite losing most of the key players from last season’s team that won a third straight region championship and reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, have continued to thrive.
LaGrange head coach Mark Veal believes a challenging early-season schedule helped prepare his team for a tough region.
“We’re battle-tested,” Veal said. “We played what I thought was going to be an extremely hard non-region schedule, and it was.”
The Troup Tigers, who have won two in a row since dropping a heart-breaker to LaGrange, are 3-2 in the region.
Troup had a 16-point lead through three periods before losing to LaGrange 64-63.
Troup didn’t dwell on that loss, though, and it followed up with impressive home wins over Cedartown and Central-Carroll.
One of Troup’s seniors, Makeon Heath, said it’s all about getting better, win or lose.
“We learn from our mistakes each game,” Heath said. “Every game we do better, and show improvement”
Sandy Creek, which has lost road games to Cartersville and LaGrange, is also 3-2 in the region.
Cedartown is 2-3 in the region, Chapel Hill is 1-4, and Central-Carroll is 0-5.
Overall record first, followed by region record:
LaGrange 10-9, 6-0
Sandy Creek 9-8, 4-1
Troup 8-6, 3-2
Central-Carroll 11-6, 3-2
Cedartown 8-8, 2-3
Cartersville 6-9, 1-4
Chapel Hill 1-16, 0-5
Cartersville 12-2, 5-0
LaGrange 14-6, 4-2
Sandy Creek 12-5, 3-2
Troup 8-7, 3-2
Cedartown 8-8, 2-3
Chapel Hill 4-10, 1-4