Impressive win for Grangers
Published 2:14 am Saturday, November 17, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a strong opening statement for the LaGrange Grangers.
Facing a Starr’s Mill team that is ranked in Class AAAAA, LaGrange captured a 59-56 overtime victory on Thursday night in a preseason game.
While the game didn’t count toward the win-loss total, it was still a confidence booster for a new-look team.
“We were really satisfied with our effort tonight,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “I didn’t think we played that great, but we battled hard, and handled adversity really well tonight. We were really proud of them.”
One of the returning players, senior Jordan Ogletree, led LaGrange with 13 points, and Vondez Taylor, D.J. Burks and Jalen Parker added nine points each.
Kindae Maddox and freshman Jakobe Jones added six points apiece.
“We played 10 kids tonight,” Veal said. “We mixed up different lineups.”
The Grangers faced a double-digit deficit in the third quarter, and they fought back to take the lead before the Panthers tied it late in regulation on a 3-pointer.
LaGrange stayed poised in overtime to come away with the road win.
“It was a good win,” Veal said. “We’re happy.”
In the girls’ game, LaGrange overcame a rocky start to make a game of it before falling 63-46.
“They scored 25 in the first quarter,” LaGrange head coach Stephen Tuck said. “They had a girl hit five threes. And they got of just blitzed us in that first quarter. It was 25-10.”
LaGrange settled down and outscored Starr’s Mill 24-18 over the next two quarters to get within 11, but it was unable to complete the comeback.
“The last quarter, we were trying to get back in the game, doing a lot of pressure, so they ended up scoring 20,” Tuck said. “But that second and third quarter, those are things that I can build off.”
It was LaGrange’s first game without Aryan Dozier and Chnaireia Strozier, a pair of four-year starters who were the leading scorers the past four seasons.
They’ve both graduated, so it’ll be up to a different group of players to carry the weight when it comes to scoring.
Senior Zaria Russell led the way on Thursday with 23 points, and a handful of other players had success on offense as well.
“What I told my coaching staff, one of the biggest things we were worried about was, where will we get points from,” Tuck said. “The fact that we put up 46 points on this first night while we’re still trying to figure out what we want to do offensively and understand how to play, that’s something we can definitely build off of.”