Patriots pull away in second half
Published 12:12 am Thursday, January 31, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They hung in there for a while.
Facing a talented Sandy Creek team that is unbeaten in Region 5-AAAA and has been blowing the doors off of everyone it plays, the LaGrange Grangers led for much of the first half and were within four at the break.
In the second half, though, the Patriots put 48 points on the board on the way to an 84-53 victory.
It’s more of the same for Sandy Creek, which has won each of its past seven games by at least 30 points.
Sandy Creek was coming off an 85-53 road win over Cartersville where it scored 32 points in the fourth quarter.
“Somewhere in the third quarter it’s a back-and-forth game, and they just did what they did up at Cartersville. They just broke it open,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “They’ve got bigs, and they can step out and shoot.”
LaGrange (11-13 overall) is 3-8 in the region, and it will close the regular season with Friday’s home game against Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill is 4-6 in the region.
LaGrange still has a chance to finish as high as fourth in the region if it beats Chapel Hill and some other things fall into place.
If LaGrange loses to Chapel Hill, it will likely be the number six seed for next week’s region tournament.
The Grangers started quickly on Wednesday, surging to a 19-14 lead after the first quarter.
LaGrange maintained that lead for much of the second quarter before Sandy Creek made a late run to build a 34-30 lead at the half.
“If we can put two halves like that together it’d be nice,” Veal said. “If we can do that we’ll have a chance to be successful.”
The Patriots, with 6-foot-8 TJ Bickerstaff leading the way, began to pull away in the third quarter.
Bickerstaff scored 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter as Sandy Creek went ahead 59-43.
Sandy Creek outscored LaGrange 23-10 in the fourth quarter to win going away.
Earley Sanders led LaGrange with 17 points, and he was 5-of-6 on free-throw attempts.
Vondez Taylor added 13 points, with nine of those points coming in the first quarter when he made two 3-pointers.
Freshman guard Kobe Jones, who scored eight points in the first quarter, also had 13 points.
Julian Alexander made four 3-pointers and scored 20 points for the Patriots.