LaGrange tops Heritage in state opener

Published 11:58 pm Friday, February 16, 2018


They’re moving on.

The LaGrange Lady Grangers shrugged off a six-point deficit in the second quarter to take a 30-27 lead at the half, and they pulled away in the second half for a 59-50 victory over Heritage-Catoosa in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament.

LaGrange advances to the second round of the state tournament for the second consecutive season, and it will be on the road against Marist next week with a trip to the final eight on the line.

“I told them honestly after the game, I’m not harping on anything,” LaGrange head coach Stephen Tuck said. “Let’s have fun now. We win and move on, and it’s on to the next game. We’ll have another challenge the next game, so enjoy the moment.”

As has been the case so often through the years, it was the duo of senior guards Aryan Dozier and Chnaireia Strozier leading the way for LaGrange.

Dozier, who last week was named the Region 5-AAAA player of the year, paced LaGrange with 23 points, and she was 10-of-16 from the free-throw line.

Strozier, a first-team all-region player, added 20 points, and she was 5-of-5 from the line.

Fellow senior Shaq Sutton had a terrific all-around game, scoring eight points while getting it done on defense while also grabbing some key offensive rebounds.

It was Sutton who helped turn the game in LaGrange’s favor in the second quarter.

Heritage led 17-14 after the first quarter, and the lead grew to six midway through the second period.

Sutton came off the bench and sparked the Lady Grangers in the second quarter.

After grabbing two straight offensive rebounds, Sutton scored to cut Heritage’s lead to four.

Following a Dozier free throw, Sutton scored again, and LaGrange was within one.

Sutton then assisted on a Dozier basket, and the Lady Grangers had the lead.

Sutton ended up scoring six points in a three-minute span, and her jumper with 46 seconds left tied it at 27-27.

“She did a good job of just being ready, and she knocked down a couple of shots,” Tuck said.

The Lady Grangers had the ball at the close of the half, and Strozier banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give her team a 30-27 lead.

An 8-1 run at the start of the third quarter gave LaGrange a 38-28 lead, but Heritage hung tough, and it trailed 43-38 heading to the final period.

The Lady Grangers regained control in the fourth period and they led by as many as 11 points before winning by nine.

While Heritage did a decent job of handling LaGrange’s pressure during the game, the strategy never changed.

“We didn’t think anybody had pressured them the entire game,” Tuck said. “We wanted to make them play four quarters and let everything happen from there.”

Ansley Bice, Heritage’s outstanding point guard, scored 16 points, but she was limited to one point in the fourth quarter.

Emily Wiley added 11 points for Heritage.