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Decision day for LaGrange

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The LaGrange Lady Grangers and Central-Carroll Lady Lions have played twice this season, and they’ve each won once.

They’ll meet for a third time today, and the team that wins the rubber match will get to keep playing, while the season will be over for the losing squad.

That high-stakes matchup will take place in Cartersville, which is the location for today’s games in the Region 5-AAAA tournament.

There will be four games, and the winning teams will advance to the semifinals of the region tournament while also qualifying for the state playoffs.

The day’s first game, which tip offs at 4 p.m., will be the showdown between LaGrange and Central-Carroll.

LaGrange is the number five seed, while Central-Carroll is the fourth seed.

The winner will advance to face top-seeded Sandy Creek on Friday.

A year ago, LaGrange went unbeaten in region play during the regular season, and it lost to Sandy Creek in the finals of the region tournament.

This year, LaGrange (11-14 overall) went 3-9 in region play in the regular season.

Just as was the case a year ago, though, when the region tournament rolls around, everyone is starting over, no matter what has happened over the past few months.

“In the region tournament, records go out the door,” LaGrange head coach Stephen Tuck said. “It doesn’t matter what you did in the regular season. All the sudden in the region tournament you’ve got to go out and play. So you’ve got a chance. You’re in the region tournament, and you’ve got a chance.”

Both of the regular-season meetings between LaGrange and Central-Carroll were close.

Central-Carroll was the home team on Jan. 4, and it pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 48-42 win.

Katelyn Hill made two 3-pointers and scored 12 points to lead LaGrange, and Zaria Russell added nine points.

In the rematch on Jan. 19, LaGrange turned the tables and won 46-42. Trailing by six points, LaGrange broke out for 21 points in the fourth quarter to rally for the win.

Russell, LaGrange’s leading scorer this season, led the way with 16 points, Carmen McGhee added 12 points, and Blair Herrod scored nine points.

Also today, the sixth-seeded LaGrange Grangers will try to keep their season alive when they face third-seeded Cartersville at 8:30 p.m.

The winning team will advance to Friday’s semifinals to take on Troup, the tournament’s second seed.

LaGrange (13-13 overall) kept its season going by beating seventh-seeded Central-Carroll 57-39 on Monday in a play-in game.

Now, LaGrange will try to flip the script after losing to Cartersville during both regular-season games.

LaGrange went on the road and lost to Cartersville 73-66 on Jan. 8, and it lost the home game 74-70 on Jan. 25.

In the most recent game, LaGrange trailed by 20 points in the second half before charging back to make a game of it.

That game came during the midst of a four-game losing streak, but LaGrange brings a two-game winning streak into today’s showdown.

LaGrange enjoyed one of its best offensive outings of the season in a 73-65 win over Chapel Hill on Friday, and it followed that up by shutting down Central’s offense on Monday.

“We had a good game Friday. It was one of the better games we’ve played all year,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “And we did some good things (against Central). So we’ve got momentum. We’ll give it our best (against Cartersville).”

In today’s other games, the Cedartown and Chapel Hill boys’ teams will play at 5:30 p.m., and the Cartersville and Cedartown girls’ teams will square off at 7 p.m.

The Sandy Creek and Troup teams won’t play until the semifinals on Friday since they’re the top two seeds.

Sandy Creek is the top seed on the boys’ and girls’ sides, while Troup’s teams are both the number two seed.

TODAY’S GAMES

AT CARTERSVILLE

4 p.m. – LaGrange girls vs. Central-Carroll

5:30 p.m. – Cedartown boys vs. Chapel Hill

7 p.m. – Cartersville girls vs. Cedartown

8:30 p.m. – LaGrange boys vs. Cartersville

FRIDAY’S GAMES

AT SANDY CREEK

4 p.m. – Troup girls vs. Cedartown or Cartersville

5:30 p.m. – Troup boys vs. LaGrange or Cartersville

7 p.m. – Sandy Creek girls vs. LaGrange or Central-Carroll

8:30 p.m. – Sandy Creek boys vs. Cedartown or Chapel Hill

SATURDAY’S GAMES

AT SANDY CREEK

3 p.m. – Girls’ third-place game

4:30 p.m. – Boys’ third-place game

6 p.m. – Girls’ championship game

7:30 p.m. – Boys’ championship game