Strong closing stretch lifts Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Through three quarters, it looked like the LaGrange Grangers and Callaway Cavaliers were headed for another dramatic finish.
The county rivals fought to the end on Saturday evening, with LaGrange hanging on for a 61-60 victory.
The scene shifted to LaGrange High for the rematch on Tuesday, and through three quarters, the home team was clinging to a one-point victory.
There would be no late suspense the second time around, though.
LaGrange took control with a 12-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter, and it went on to claim a 56-47 victory.
“We closed out better tonight,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said.
Callaway’s Jacob Freeman scored at the close of the third quarter to cut LaGrange’s lead to 38-37, setting the stage for what appeared to be another tight finish.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Grangers, though, who scored 12 straight points to go up 50-37 with 3:22 to play.
Duke Simpson made a 3-pointer with 3:08 left, giving the Cavaliers their first points of the fourth quarter and cutting the Grangers’ lead to 50-40.
The Grangers scored the next four points, and they had a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Senior Vondez Taylor sparked the Grangers with 19 points while making four 3-pointers, and Earley Sanders and Jalen Parker had 10 points apiece.
Taylor was 5-of-5 from the free-throw line, with four of those attempts coming during the decisive fourth quarter.
“He hasn’t shot the ball well all year, but he hit some big ones the last game, and some of the shots he hit tonight were real important,” Veal said of Taylor.
Antinez Blount paced the Cavaliers with 14 points, Ja’Vontay Boddie added 11 points, and Duke Simpson scored 10 points.
The Grangers led 15-14 after the opening quarter, and they fell behind by 10 points in the second quarter before rallying to take a 30-28 lead at the break on a buzzer-beating shot by Parker.
The Grangers led by as many as five points in the third quarter before the Cavaliers scored four straight points to get within one.
“I’m proud of the guys, for getting down and coming back, and getting down and coming back,” Veal said. “That’s adversity you deal with in a basketball game, and they did well.”
Both teams will be on the road on Friday.
LaGrange visits Whitewater, while Callaway begins its Region 5-AA schedule at Lamar County.