LaGrange ends Troup’s season, clinches playoff berth

Published 11:10 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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It was all to play for when LaGrange and Troup boys basketball teams clashed in the region tournament quarterfinals at Whitewater High School on Tuesday. With a spot in the playoffs on the line, LaGrange overcame a slow start and blew out the Tigers 78-51 to head to the semifinals and a spot in the state playoffs.

“Basketball is one of the few sports in which the regular season doesn’t matter that much,” LaGrange coach Mark Veal said with a laugh. “With a playoff spot on the line, it made it more pins and needles than normal.”

LaGrange held a narrow 10-9 lead after the opening eight minutes as neither team could find a consistent rhythm on offense early.

The Grangers were able to blow the game open in the second quarter and took a double-digit lead heading into halftime (33-21). Isaiah Green sparked the Granger offense to life with three 3-pointers in the second quarter.

“The start of the game was horrendous,” Veal said. “Isiah Green came off the bench and sparked us. He was impressive in the second quarter.”

Green only scored four points in the other three quarters combined but was exactly what the Grangers needed to get the offense rolling.

LaGrange completely suffocated the life out of the game in the third quarter with stifling defense. The Grangers did not allow the Tigers to score a single basket in the quarter with all six Troup points coming on free throws.

“I didn’t have to tell them anything different (at halftime),” Veal said. “I didn;t say anything unusual, they knew what they had to do.”

The game was all but over heading to the fourth quarter as the Grangers led their rivals 56-27. The Tigers were able to make the score more flattering in the final quarter but ultimately the game was no longer in the balance long before the final buzzer rang.

The Grangers were led in scoring by J’Arthur Dunn, who finished with 14 points. 

Garrett Jacobsen and Green finished with 13 points each with Jaylen Young scoring 10 to round out the Grangers in double figures for scoring. Devin Dowell was kept uncharacteristically quiet with seven points, although all of those points came in the third quarter to help close the game out long before the clock hit triple zeroes.

Troup was led in scoring by senior Deo’Vion Tucker, who finished with nine points in his final game with the Tigers. Qua Moss, Qua Birdsong and Jalen Brown all finished with eight points each. Dee Moreland and Desmon Cunningham scored seven points and two respectively to round out the scoring for Troup.

The Tigers season came to an end and finished with a 10-17 record in Jairo Gay’s first season in charge of the program — six more wins than they managed the season prior.

LaGrange has locked in a playoff spot but still has unfinished business in the region tournament. The Grangers will be on the road to Whitewater on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. with a spot in the region championship game on the line. 

“Playing Whitewater will be tough,” Veal said. “We beat them twice, and it is hard to beat a team three times. We will expect their best shot on Thursday.”