Some teams have it. Others don’t.
What every team needs is all-out hustle. That is one thing that does not require talent. Sometimes a basketball game does come down to who wants it more. And on Friday night that team of need and motivation was La-Grange High.
The Lady Grangers combined constant hustle with a stingy defense, and that carried LaGrange High past Cartersville, 50- 44 in overtime in a Region 5-AAAA basketball game at LHS.
“We played with a lot of passion and defense. We boxed out. This was a must win,” said Lady Granger senior guard Blair Herrod.
LaGrange High was looking for something to build on. The Lady Grangers, 11-11 overall and 3-6 in the region, found it. Not only that, La-Grange High held Cartersville scoreless in overtime.
The Lady Grangers buckled down. They played their best five minutes of defense of the season. LaGrange High wasn’t about to let this game get away.
“Cartersville is a tough team, but we kept fighting. We did a good job of rebounding. We executed. We were hungry and aggressive (on defense),” said Stephen Tuck, the head coach of the Lady Grangers.
LaGrange High played some “Blue Collar” basketball in overtime. It was not fancy or flashy. But it was effective. The Lady Grangers handled the ball like it was the last bowl of homemade chili.
And LaGrange High did not drop one spoon full of goodness. First, the Lady Grangers took the lead at 46-44 on a Herrod layup with 3:55 left in the overtime. The Lady Grangers then went to work on the defensive glass without the Windex.
They pounced on every Cartersville missed shot. LaGrange High commanded the boards in the extra period of play. Every big rebound in overtime belonged to the Lady Grangers. LaGrange High senior guard Zaria Russell grabbed one huge rebound on the defensive glass with 3:23 remaining.
Lady Granger junior guard Chaquave’ayr Robinson pulled down another defensive rebound at the 1:43 mark of overtime. Madison Coverson, the junior forward for La-Grange High, also beat Cartersville to the ball with 11 seconds left. Coverson had another Lady Granger defensive rebound.
LaGrange High also scored in the overtime on a Robinson layup. She chipped in a three-foot runner late in the game as well. The Lady Grangers outscored the Lady Hurricanes, 6-0 in overtime.
There was a lid on the basket for Cartersville, thanks in part to the persistent LaGrange High defense. The Lady Grangers also had a 100-gallon supply of hustle.
The Lady Hurricanes were outplayed.
“We were too tentative. We missed our chances. LaGrange athletics has a great tradition,” said coach Cindy Moore of Cartersville (10-11 overall, 2-7 in the region).
But the Lady Hurricanes almost won the game on the last shot in the fourth quarter. Cartersville freshman guard Lehla Thomas nearly won the region contest on a 50-foot longrange prayer of a shot as the buzzer sounded.
The Thomas heave hit the front iron of the rim, but the ball refused to climb over and fall through the net. The Lady Hurricanes still got the game into overtime despite a 4-foot field goal from LaGrange High freshman center Holly Lynn with 5:28 to go in the fourth period.
Lynn and the Lady Grangers took a 38-37 lead. LaGrange High also led 21-18 at halftime and 36-33 after three quarters of play. The Lady Grangers found some third period offense with a Zaria Russell three-point bucket and a Herrod fast break layup.
But this was a game that would require five quarters of play, including overtime. And that was even with a one-handed 5foot field goal from Cartersville’s Lehla Thomas, which shrunk the LaGrange High lead to 1916 in the second period of play.
Thomas would go on and score nine points in the game. Cartersville also got 10 points from freshman guard Alexia Henderson and seven points from senior A’mya Davis.
The final LaGrange High offensive tally would include 15 points for Russell, 14 points for Chaquave’ayr Robinson and nine points for the 5-foot-3 Herrod.
The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews. net