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Grangers hang tough in loss

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

TYRONE – The LaGrange Grangers gave themselves a chance, but it was the talented Chapel Hill Panthers pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 57-49 victory in the semifinals of the Region 5-AAAA tournament.

LaGrange, the tournament’s number three seed, will play Troup on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the third-place game.

LaGrange will be on the road next week for the opening round of the state tournament.

In Friday’s game, the Grangers were trailing by nine when Malik Hall hit a 3-pointer late in the second quarter to make it a 32-26 game, and that was the score at the half.

The Grangers got within four early in the second half on a Nafis Carston basket, but the Panthers stretched the lead to 10 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.

The Grangers hung tough, and when D.J. Burks made two free throws with three seconds left in the third quarter, the Panthers’ lead was down to 42-36.

The Panthers began to pull away in the fourth quarter, with Micah Bell hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 49-36.

The Grangers, who fell behind by as many as 18 points, got within 10 with two 1:56 left on consecutive 3-pointers by Burks.

The Panthers held firm, though, to win by eight points and earn a date opposite the Sandy Creek Patriots in the region-championship game.

Burks made three 3-pointers and led the Grangers with 15 points, Carston added 10 points, and Brown and Kobe Jones had eight points apiece.

“Going to the fourth quarter, we were down six, and they were able to separate,” said LaGrange head coach Mark Veal. “But I was proud. It was a good effort.”