LaGrange hosts region tournament games
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a challenging end to the regular season for the LaGrange Grangers, but everything worked out in the end.
Despite losing their final four games of the regular season to finish 5-7 in Region 5-AAAA, the Grangers still secured the number three seed for the region tournament.
By virtue of its third-place finish, LaGrange will be the host team for Wednesday’s region-tournament games.
LaGrange will play sixth-seeded Cedartown at 8:30 p.m. in the fourth and final game of the day.
Troup, which also went 5-7 in the region and is the number four seed, will play fifth-seeded Cedartown at 5:30 p.m.
There will also be two girls’ semifinal games on Wednesday, with Cedartown and Chapel Hill playing at 4 p.m., and Sandy Creek and Cartersville meeting at 7 p.m.
The winners of Wednesday’s games will advance to the semifinals on Friday at Sandy Creek while also earning a spot in the state tournament.
LaGrange was flying high when it beat Troup on Jan. 7 to improve to 17-0 overall and 4-0 in region play.
Since that game, though, LaGrange (18-7) has lost seven of eight, with the lone win coming against Cedartown on Jan. 21.
LaGrange won both meetings with Cedartown in the regular season, which allowed it to win the tiebreaker and earn the number three seed.
The hope is that the Grangers, spurred on by their home fans, can rediscover the winning touch they had earlier in the season.
“You always want to finish one or two in the region to get an automatic berth,” said Mark Veal, LaGrange’s head coach. “Aside from those two, this is the best spot you can be in, and hopefully we’ll take advantage. We’ve been struggling here of late, and hopefully we can remember that we’ve won a lot of games this year and we can get back on it.”
If the previous two games between Cedartown and LaGrange are an indication, today’s game will be a close one. After winning 45-41 at Cedartown, LaGrange won the rematch 51-48 at home.
“Cedartown’s very athletic,” Veal said. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to defend them and rebounding will be key, and hopefully we’ll have some guys step up and produce.”
Leading the way for LaGrange is senior guard D.J. Burks, who is a first-team member of the all-region team.
Sophomore guard Kobe Jones, meanwhile, is a second-team selection on the all-region team.
Seniors Kindae Maddox, Earley Sanders, Blake Miles and Nafis Carston, along with junior Javon Brown and freshman Garrett Jacobsen have also been key players for the Grangers.
Troup came into Saturday’s game at Cartersville with a chance to secure the number three seed, but it lost 76-70.
Those two teams will turn around a few days later and play again, and this time the stakes will be a whole lot higher.
“I said guys, this game really doesn’t mean anything in the long run,” Troup head coach Blake Craft said after Saturday’s loss. “We’ve got to win this Wednesday.”
While the Tigers lost out on a chance to be at home, they are playing in a gym where they’ve enjoyed success.
Troup has won three straight at LaGrange, including a 68-60 victory on Jan. 25.
“Hopefully we can win another one,” Craft said.
Among Troup’s top players are a pair of seniors, Gabe Cofield and Trey Williams, who made the all-region team. The other seniors, Qua Johnson, Isaiah Cox and Camren O’Neal, are also key players for the Tigers.
K.J. Tucker, Jaquavious Whitfield, Ricco Person and Gabe Stepp have also had successful seasons for the Tigers.
(At LaGrange High)
4 p.m. – Cedartown girls vs. Chapel Hill
5:30 p.m. – Troup boys vs. Cartersville
7 p.m. – Sandy Creek girls vs. Cartersville
8:30 p.m. – LaGrange boys vs. Cedartown
(At Sandy Creek)
4 p.m. – Central-Carroll girls vs. Sandy Creek or Cartersville
5:30 p.m. – Chapel Hill boys vs. LaGrange or Cedartown
7 p.m. – Troup girls vs. Cedartown or Chapel Hill
8:30 p.m. – Sandy Creek boys vs. Troup or Cartersville
(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