Grangers hold off Cavaliers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The LaGrange Grangers withstood a late-game charge by the home-standing Callaway Cavaliers to get a 61-60 win before a packed house on Saturday evening.
The Grangers had a 10-point lead with less than three minutes to play, and the Cavaliers came charging back and got within one on a Ja’Vontay Boddie 3-pointer at the buzzer.
It was the first of two meetings in a four-day span for the county rivals.
LaGrange will host Callaway today, with the girls’ game tipping at 6 p.m., and the boys’ game to follow.
Saturday’s game appeared as though it would be short on suspense when LaGrange built a 54-44 lead with 2:40 remaining.
Beginning with a Jalin Shephard 3-pointer with two minutes left, though, the Cavaliers began a furious late-game charge that came up just short.
LaGrange (2-3 overall) ended a two-game losing streak and bounced back from an overtime loss to Harris County last week.
“We had some guys step up and play well tonight, and we had some guys that didn’t play as well as they have been,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “When that happens in basketball, somebody’s not on, then somebody else has to step up.”
One player who has been on his game all season is senior Jordan Ogletree, who led the Grangers with 17 points.
Junior post player Earley Sanders added 16 points and had his best game of the young season, and freshman point guard Kobe Jones added 10 points.
“Earley started off the year slow, but he’s come on the last few games,” Veal said. “We’re awfully proud of him. He stepped up and hit some big buckets.”
As for Jones, Veal said “he’s learning on the fly. He’s gotten better since game one.”
After opening with a 68-42 loss to Newnan on Friday night, Callaway hung tough with LaGrange a day later and nearly walked away with the win.
Many of Callaway’s players, who played their final football game a little more than a week ago, only had a few days of practice before the season opener.
While Hayes believes that rust is showing, he’s happy with the effort.
“We need to work together,” Hayes said. “There’s no chemistry right now, and we’re missing a lot of shots right now. But they’re playing hard.”
The Cavaliers scored 16 points in a two-minute span at the end of Saturday’s game to make things interesting, and Hayes credited the bench players for sparking the comeback.
“We got some in foul trouble, and they came off the bench and came through,” Hayes said.
Boddie led the Cavaliers with 17 points, Duke Simpson added 14 points, and Shephard scored nine points.
The Cavaliers were ahead by four with 3:15 left in the third quarter when Dre Towns made a 3-pointer, but the Grangers rallied to take a 43-40 lead heading to the final quarter.
Jones hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Grangers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Grangers stayed hot into the fourth quarter, and when Sanders made a free throw with 2:40 to play, the Cavaliers were in a 54-44 hole.
Back came the Cavaliers, who got as close as four when Boddie made a 3-pointer with 1:23 to play.
It was a three-point game when Vondez Taylor made a free throw with seven seconds left to give the Grangers a 61-57 lead.
Boddie drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the Cavaliers came up one point short.