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Panthers look for bounceback season

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It was a season of close calls for the LaGrange College Panthers, and a lot of those decisions didn’t go their way.

LaGrange College’s men’s basketball team went 7-18 last season, in large part because of the inability to prevail in tight games.

“We lost 10 games by seven points or less, and four other games we lost were against ranked opponents, including defending national-champion Oshkosh,” said Kendal Wallace, LaGrange College’s head coach since the 2011-2012 season. “So we’ve got a lot to be proud of, and I think the kids learned a lot.”

The Panthers have enjoyed tremendous success during Wallace’s tenure.

During a four-year stretch beginning with the 2013-2014 season, the Panthers won three USA South tournament championships and made four appearances in the NCAA Division III national tournament.

After going 17-9 during the 2018-2019 season, the Panthers were hit hard by graduation, and an inexperienced team struggled to find success last season.

Outside of Lincoln Anderson and Julian Cameron, no one else on the roster had seen significant varsity playing time in previous seasons.

“This past season, really only Lincoln and Julian had any time,” Wallace said. “They had a lot to learn.”

The good news for Wallace and the Panthers is that nearly every player from last season’s team will return, including Cameron, who led the team in scoring at 19 points per game.

Anderson was next on the team at 13.6 points per game, and Kyle Brown scored 10 points a game.

The only player who won’t return is Henry Blair, who was the third-leading scorer at 11.6 points a game.

“Other than (Blair), we have a great core coming back,” Wallace said. “I’ve got a couple of transfers that I really like coming in, and I have a plethora of freshmen that I really, really like. So we’re excited about the future.”

LaGrange College is scheduled to open the season against Christopher Newport in the Lynchburg (Va.) Classic on Nov. 13.