LAGRANGE – They made things interesting.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s GISA Region 1-AA semifinal game against Bethlehem Temple, the home-standing LaGrange Academy Warriors were within three with less than 30 seconds to play.
The comeback stalled at that point, though, and it was Bethlehem Temple, the school formerly known as Dawson Street Christian School, capturing a 55-49 victory to advance to today’s region-championship game against Furtah Prep at 8:30 p.m.
LaGrange Academy will play Brandon Hall in the tournament’s third-place game at 5:30 p.m.
LaGrange Academy has already secured its invitation to the state tournament, so today’s game is just for seeding.
The Warriors had hoped to be playing in today’s late game, and they made a run at it with a furious fourth-quarter rally against the Rams.
When Colby Heath knocked down a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, the Rams’ once seemingly-safe lead had shrunk to three, but the Warriors didn’t score again.
LaGrange Academy’s Whit Moreman did some terrific work inside with 23 points, and he was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Will Trotter made a pair of 3-pointers and scored 14 points, and Lincoln Anderson added six points.
Qua Cameron, who made three 3-pointers, led Bethlehem Temple with 21 points.
The Warriors trailed 16-11 after the first quarter, but they scored the first seven points of the second period to take an 18-16 lead.
Moreman completed a three-point play to tie it at 16-16, and he scored again with 2:14 left in the half to give his team the lead.
The Rams didn’t score their first points of the second quarter until Cameron made a 3-pointer with 1:50 left in the half, and that jump-started a 7-2 run that gave the visiting team a 23-20 lead at the break.
After falling behind by four, the Warriors got within one when Moreman had another three-point play with 4:11 left in the third quarter.
The Rams then took control, ripping off 12 straight points to go up 39-26, and they were ahead 41-30 as the fourth quarter began.
When Cameron made a 3-pointer with 5:30 left in the game, the Rams were ahead 48-34, and the Warriors were in trouble.
There was no quit in the Warriors, though.
Beginning with a trotter basket with 4:36 to play, the Warriors went on a 15-4 run that trimmed the Rams’ lead to three.
Nick Keating and Moreman had back-to-back 3-pointers during the run, and Heath’s 3-pointer got the Warriors as close as they’d been since midway through the third quarter.
After Travis Whitehead made a free throw with 20 seconds left, the Warriors got the ball back down by four, but a 3-pointer didn’t find the mark.
The Rams got the rebound, and they made two free throw to put the game on ice.
Also on Thursday, it was LaGrange Academy’s girls’ team falling to Flint River 30-7 in the semifinals.
The Lady Warriors found themselves trailing 14-0 after the first quarter, and head coach Mike Petite said it all came down to turnovers.
“That’s the thing that hurts us are turnovers,” Petite said. “The whole first quarter was turnovers.”
The Lady Warriors outscored the Lady Wildcats 5-4 in the second quarter, but they were unable to find any offensive success in the second half.
Still, Petite was proud of his team’s defensive effort against a team that has dominated the region this season.
LaGrange Academy will play Bethlehem Temple at 4 p.m. today in the third-place game.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports