The Cougars took their best shot.
Newnan jumped put to a double-digit lead against LaGrange High on Monday night behind some hot shooting and dominating board play. The Cougars had a 10-0 advantage before the Grangers got settled in during the LHS boys basketball opener.
It did not last for Newnan and junior guard Travis Johnson, who buried a couple of three-pointers in the first quarter. LaGrange tightened its defense. The Grangers went to work on the glass. They came up with some 5050 loose balls out on the floor, and LaGrange High found its shooting range.
The Grangers nailed down a 58-48 win over Newnan at the LHS gymnasium. It was not a pretty victory for the Grangers, but they all count the same. LaGrange High much prefers to be 1-0 instead of the alternative.
“We came out sluggish and rusty. We were not shooting the ball well, but we started to work the ball inside out. The kids played hard. We showed up, and Jarious (Freeman) got us going,” said Grangers head coach Mark Veal.
Freeman, the 5-foot-6 junior guard, hit two big threepointers in the third period to fan the flames of a rally. LaGrange High went on a 15-8 run in that quarter to take a 38-30 lead.
But before that there were some anxious moments for the Grangers. They trailed the entire first period and a good part of the second quarter. LaGrange High did tie the game up for the first time at 14-14 early in the second stanza on a three-foot floater from junior guard Bo Russell.
Meanwhile, LaGrange guard Gabe Duckett drew nothing but iron on an attempted fastbreak dunk. The Grangers did respond on their next possession with a tying three-foot baby hook shot from senior center Kenan Gray to deadlock the game once again at 18-18.
Newnan would also tie the game at 20-20 with 1:16 left in the first half on a layup from junior guard Will Gates. But the third period had a definite blue twinge to it in favor of LaGrange High.
The Grangers followed the lead of senior guard Laperion Perry, who knocked down two free throws for a 26-22 LHS lead with 7:25 left in the third stanza.
LaGrange also got some intimidating defense, some top heavy rebounding and some bruising post play from the 6-foot-6 Kenan Gray. Freeman’s two three-pointers came in handy, too, for the Grangers, who went ahead by eight points.
“LaGrange came out with more energy (in the second half). We could not get a stop, and they started to hit some shots. We need to take care of the ball better,” said Rogeric Ladd, the head coach of the Newnan Cougars (1-3).
Newnan did cut the La-Grange High lead to 43-39 on a Gates layup early in the fourth quarter. But after that the Grangers went on a 6-1 run to take a 49-40 advantage.
LaGrange High School hit enough free throws down the stretch to put the game away. The Grangers also got a big hoop from Bo Russell in the fourth stanza. Russell finished the game with 15 points. Perry had 14 for LaGrange High.
The Grangers also got 10 points from Gray. The Cougars were led by Gates with 14 points and senior guard Nick Parks with 11 points. Senior Klynell Johnson also rattled in 10 points for Newnan.
Travis Johnson had a 9point outing for the Cougars.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer