A nail-biter, it was not.
The Grangers did what they wanted to, when they wanted to and with some basketball emphasis. The LaGrange High boys decked Stone Mountain like an Olympic boxer by virtue of their 72-41 beatdown in the second round of the Toyota Classic on Thursday night at LHS.
“We sped the game up. We got some easy buckets. We ran the floor, and we had a lot of people rebounding,” said Granger senior guard Jay Benton. LaGrange High did make an impression, a favorable one. The Grangers never trailed in the game.
Senior guard Bo Russell scored the first basket of the game for the Grangers with a layup, 58 seconds after the game tipped off. LaGrange High senior forward Daz Williams followed with a three-point bomb with 6:05 to go in the opening quarter.
Russell then buried another three-pointer for the Grangers for an early 8-3 lead over the Pirates. Russell came back with a dunk and a three-point basket. LaGrange High snagged a 15-9 lead.
The Grangers never looked back. They had some more work to do, and the Grangers resumed the job at hand in the second quarter. The Grangers found the next gear, as well as the bottom of the net, as they went on an 18-6 run following a three-point bucket from Stone Mountain.
“We got in the passing lanes, and we forced some turnovers. We have kids who work. We did what we were supposed to,” said coach Mark Veal of the Grangers (8-4).
The LaGrange High boys broke the game open in just the second period. The Grangers milked a 1510 lead into a 33-16 advantage. That can happen and most certainly did for LaGrange High.
Senior guard Covan Huzzie drained a 4-foot floater for the Grangers. Russell was in the same general locale, too. Russell netted a three-pointer, and seconds later he scored on a layin. Benton added a layup for a 24-15 La-Grange High lead.
Russell then took the baton and the basketball, draining a short jumper. Benton kept the rally going with a steal and layup. The Grangers rolled to a 13point lead at 28-15. The LaGrange High boys also got an old fashioned threepointer from Russell with a layup and a free throw.
The Grangers opened up their lead to 31-16. The Pirates were gasping for air and looking for the locker room.
“LaGrange has a good defensive team. They passed the ball well, and they knocked down some shots. We are young. We only have two guys with varsity experience,” said head coach Tony Stroud of Stone Mountain (1-6).
The Grangers ended the first half by scoring on a Jay Benton layup with seven seconds left. Go ahead and make it a 33-16 La-Grange High lead. The Grangers did that.
There was more of the same for LaGrange High in the second half. The Grangers hit the Pirates with a 20-9 run in the third quarter. LaGrange High stretched their lead on out to 28 points at 53-25.
“We were just trying to make plays,” said Benton of LaGrange High.
The Grangers were laying it on thick. Daz Williams drained a three-pointer. Benton also scored on back-to-back layups. Huzzie pumped in a shot from behind the three-point arc. Bo Russell glided through the lane en route to a slam dunk.
The rim is still vibrating. Senior guard Jalen Watson canned a threepointer, and junior forward Marquis Cox helped himself to a layup for La-Grange High.
And in the fourth period the Grangers refused to slow down. LaGrange High outscored Stone Mountain, 19-16. Doing most of the damage was Cox, who went on a 16-point rampage. Cox scored from the free throw line, along with a pair of 8-foot jumpers and a layin.
Cox also scored on a putback and a free throw with 3:17 remaining. The Grangers were wheeling and dealing with a 66-35 lead. The LaGrange High boys scored in the fourth period as well on freshman guard Malik Hall’s three-pointer from the baseline.
Marquis Cox then made a late-game deposit with a layin with 59 seconds left. The game mercifully ended for the Pirates, who had no defense for the flashy Grangers. LaGrange High called it a rout, indeed, with 20 points from Cox, 19 points from Bo Russell, 11 points from Benton and nine points from Daz Williams.
Covan Huzzie also scored five points for the La-Grange High boys.