Big weekend for Panthers
By KEVIN ECKLEBRERRY
It was anybody’s game.
In the early moments of the second half of Sunday’s USA South game in Mariotti Gym, the home-standing LaGrange College Panthers were clinging to a 35-31 lead over the rival Maryville Scots.
The Scots had possession with an opportunity to take a bite out of their four-point deficit.
Jalen McCallum, the Panthers’ imposing 6-foot-8 forward, went up and blocked a shot.
Elijah Adedoyin corralled the loose ball and went the distance for a layup, and he was fouled in the process.
Adedoyin made the free throw to complete the three-point play, and the Panthers had a seven-point lead.
The Panthers were in control the rest of the way, and they eased to an 86-75 victory to improve to 9-4 overall, and 5-1 in the conference.
It was the culmination of a perfect week for LaGrange College, which also beat North Carolina Wesleyan and Berea.
“The most important thing about today was to get a W,” LaGrange College head coach Kendal Wallace said. “We played a tough game up at N.C. Wesleyan, and we had a long road trip back. I think we were in the bus longer than we were in Rocky Mount. That was tough on us. And to come in here and play well yesterday against Berea, and then to bounce back against Maryville (it was) a great weekend.”
Jamison McCray paced the Panthers in Sunday’s game with 22 points, and he was 8-of-11 from the field.
McCallum had a terrific all-around game with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and he had seven rebounds and six blocked shots.
Gary Bishop contributed 13 points and was 11-of-12 from the free-throw line.
Travis Thompson had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Julian Cameron also scored 10 points.
It was close early, and McCray hit a 3-point at the halftime buzzer to give LaGrange College a 33-31 lead.
“That was a big shot for us going into the locker room with momentum,” McCray said.
After the 15-minute halftime break, the Panthers returned to the court and took control, and they led by as many as 11 points with 11:47 to play.
The Scots got within seven with 10:29 remaining, but moments later the Panthers went back up by 10 on a 3-pointer by Cameron.
The Scots hung tough and get as close as six a few times, but the Panthers remained in command.
“I thought we had a rough first half, but we got in the locker room and made some adjustments, and we were able to have a much better second half,” Wallace said.
“The first five minutes of the second half were really positive for us.”
LaGrange College reached the century mark in points for the second straight game on the way to a 101-92 win over Berea.
Travis Thompson led the Panthers with 23 points, and he pulled down 15 rebounds.
Jamison McCray was 4-of-7 on 3-point attempts while scoring 20 points, and Gary Bishop made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points.
Juliam Cameron scored 11 points, and Jalen McCallum chipped in with 10 points.
McCray scored 14 of his points in the first half as the Panthers surged to a 58-48 lead.
After falling behind by as many as 29 points in the second half, Berea fought back and got within six, but LaGrange College did a solid job from the free-throw line late to secure the win.