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Grangers stay perfect

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The streak lives.

With a boisterous home crowd offering its support, the LaGrange Grangers outlasted Harris County 52-48 on Tuesday night to improve to 6-0.

Five of those wins have come at home, and at each of those games, even the ones over Thanksgiving break, the fans have turned out to support the Grangers, turning game nights into an event.

“It was a great atmosphere in here tonight,” said Mark Veal, LaGrange’s head coach. “The student section was good, both sides had a lot of fans. When you come in here in this gym and play in this atmosphere all the time it’s wonderful.”

Everyone in the gym got to see a down-to-the-wire ballgame.

The outcome wasn’t determined until Earley Sanders made a free throw with four seconds left, meaning that even if Harris County had hit a desperation shot at the buzzer, LaGrange would have still won.

“If we’d hit some free throws it wouldn’t have been that close at the end, but it’s the learning process, and you like to learn while you win,” Veal said. “You see some things you can do better.”

Nafis Carston, Kobe Jones and D.J. Burks each scored 11 points for LaGrange, and Kindae Maddox and Javon Brown had seven points apiece.

LaGrange will try to continue its perfect start when it hosts Pike County next Tuesday.

“We’ve got a week off until we play again, so we’ll have more practice time, and we’ve got some things to improve on,” Veal said.

In the Harris County game, LaGrange struggled early, and it trailed 16-6 at the end of the first quarter.

“We’re coming back off a week off, and we told the guys to set the tone, and they came out flat,” Veal said.

The Grangers picked up the pace in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 15-9 to cut the deficit to 25-21 at the half.

The Grangers continued their surge in the third quarter and they took a 31-29 lead on a Carston basket, but the Tigers finished the period on an 8-3 run to take a 37-34 lead.

The deficit was still three when Burks drained a 3-pointer with 6:05 to play to tie it, and Burks made a free throw 15 seconds later to put the Grangers on top by one, and they held the lead the rest of the way.

The Grangers had a seven-point lead with less than two minutes to play when the Tigers made a final push.

Harris County, in fact, had a chance to tie it with a 3-pointer in the game’s waning moments, but the shot didn’t connect, and LaGrange came down with the rebound with five seconds to play.

Sanders was fouled, and he missed the first free throw before making the second one to salt the game away.