Heartbreak in Macon: LaGrange Academy lets double-digit lead slip in elite eight loss

Published 2:02 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

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The reigning state champion LaGrange Academy Warriors saw their season cut short on Friday in a 45-28 loss to Crisp Academy in the Elite Eight in Macon.

Senior center Anna Beth Kinnersley was at the heart of just about everything the Warriors did right on Friday, but even that was not enough. Kinnersley finished the game with 24 of the team’s 28 points and walked off the court in tears. She along with fellow senior Laura Knight were instrumental in the team winning it all last year and both have officially played their last game in orange and blue.

It was especially heartbreaking for Knight, who fouled out in the third and fellow senior Tasha Brawner who fouled out in the fourth.

The first quarter was mostly controlled by the Warriors, but Crisp Academy was able to do just enough to slow down LaGrange Academy’s attack. The Warriors led 8-4 after one.

The Warriors finally got it going on offense in the second quarter, taking their first double-digit lead (17-7) with 3:57 left to go in the first half. 

LaGrange Academy’s defense was stifling all night and set the tone in the first half. The Wildcats did not even crack double figures until the third quarter and trailed 21-9 at the break.

Unfortunately, the Warriors completely collapsed in the third quarter. Crisp Academy went on a quick 4-0 run to start the third and coach Ken Klinger called a quick timeout, but the onslaught would continue. The Wildcats added 11 more unanswered points to take a 24-21 lead before a free throw by Kinnersley halted the run. 

By the end of the third quarter, the Warriors trailed 36-24 as they had no answer for the full-court press.

LaGrange Academy was short-handed late in the game and had to play the final couple of minutes with just four players on the court after having two players foul out.

It has been a difficult season for the Warriors at times. This was just the 10th game they have played this season as numerous cancellations have left them short on games.

LaGrange Academy’s lone loss coming into the playoffs came in the final game of the regular season to St. George’s which dropped the Warriors in the playoff seeding. 

The Warriors finished the season 8-2. With four of their six players seniors, the team will be looking at a rebuild next season.