Grangers stay perfect
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They were pushed and tested, but when the dust settled and the clock hit zero, the LaGrange Grangers were still perfect.
LaGrange trailed by five points early in the fourth quarter of Monday’s LaGrange Toyota Classic game against WD Mohammed, but it rallied for a 61-54 victory to improve to 13-0.
LaGrange will carry an unblemished record into Friday’s Region 5-AAAA opener at home against Central-Carroll.
“They were 10-2, ranked eighth in the state. They’re a good team,” said LaGrange head coach Mark Veal. “A lot of that resembled 2013 when they beat us. It went back-and-forth, and they took the lead. Fortunately, we were able to score some points at the end.”
As has been the case throughout the season, it was a team effort, with four different players scoring in double figures.
Senior D.J. Burks paced the Grangers with 18 points while making three 3-pointers, and Javon Brown added 12 points.
Kobe Jones contributed 11 points, including nine points in the fourth quarter, and Malik Hall scored 10 points.
“We’re getting everybody involved,” Burks said. “We’re playing as a team. That’s what got us to this point, playing as a team.”
The Grangers were ahead 33-30 at the half, and they led by seven points following a Jones floater with 3:45 left in the third quarter.
W.D. Mohammed began fighting back, though, and it ended the third quarter on an 11-3 run to take a 46-45 lead.
The Caliphs kept the momentum going into the fourth quarter, and with 6:36 left in the game they had a 50-45 lead.
The Grangers needed a spark, and they got it from Jones, a sophomore guard.
Jones hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Grangers a 51-50 lead with 5:55 to play, and they were ahead the rest of the way.
“He hit those threes and that helped, and D.J. and Malik Hall stepped up and hit some big shots tonight,” Veal said.
Senior guard Blake Miles scored the Grangers’ next five points to give his team some breathing room.
Miles, on a nice pass from Jones, scored on a fast-break layup to make it a 53-50 game with 4:44 to play.
On the Grangers’ next possession, Miles drove to the basket and scored and was fouled, and he knocked down the free throw to put his team on top 56-50 with 4:05 remaining.
The Grangers had at least a four-point lead the rest of the way.
It was one of the most challenging games the Grangers have had this season, and Hall believes that’ll benefit the players heading into region play.
“It’s going to be like this in region,” Hall said. “Our region’s hard. We’ve got to be ready.”
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