The Grangers fell into a 10-0 hole in the first quarter, but they shook off that slow start to claim a 66-61 victory in the Region 5-AAAA showdown at Troup High.
Justyn Olson paced the Grangers with 20 points, while Baron Smith added 17 points and hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third period that gave LaGrange a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Kwame Brown chipped in with 10 points for the Grangers.
For Troup, Demetrius Trammell led the way with 17 points, and Lakeithin Buckner and Deontae Scott added 11 points apiece.
“We’re very happy to win here in a very hostile environment, with a lot of pressure,” LaGrange head coach Mike Pauley said. “(Troup) was playing with a lot of emotion. You have to respect that. We’re fortunate (to win).”
Troup was trying to give head coach Thermond Billinglea his 500th career win, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The Tigers trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth period, and although they got as close as five points down the stretch, they fell short.
Billingslea felt his team’s size disadvantage made a big difference.
“Size is always going to take over if it stays close. I think that’s what happened,” Billingslea said. “But I’m proud of my folks. We played a ninth-grade point guard (Donald Johnson). I thought he did an admirable job. We just have to keep going. None of it’s going to be easy. I knew that going in (to the region schedule).”
Trailing 32-29 at the half, the Grangers were still down by a point when Smith hit two straight 3-pointers to give his team a 43-38 lead with 3:50 left in the third period.
Smith had the hot hand in the third quarter, and Pauley said the other players recognized that.
“The guys understand, if somebody hits a shot, lets come down and get that guy the next shot,” Pauley said. “Sure enough, Justyn came right down and found (Smith).”
The Grangers extended their lead to 52-46 by the end of the third quarter.
The Grangers went up by nine with 5:50 left in the game on a Brown 3-pointer, and they pushed the lead to 61-50 on a Smith basket with 4:40 remaining.
The Tigers made some noise late.
Scott scored two baskets in a seven-point stretch to bring Troup within six at 65-59 with 1:23 left, but the Tigers didn’t score again until Trammell made two free throws with nine seconds left.
Pauley said “nobody panicked” as Troup made its late run.
Both teams are back in action Tuesday, with LaGrange hosting Carrollton, and Troup visiting Shaw.