High School Basketball
Cougars rally, make key stop to hold off LaGrange
by Doug Gorman
The Newnan Cougars topped off a successful weekend Saturday, knocking off visiting LaGrange 59-58 at the Max Bass Athletic Center in a contest that featured some late-game drama.
With the Cougars clinging to the one-point lead, Newnan’s Tonarius Portress turned in the defensive play of the game by drawing a charge against the Grangers’ Dariko Smith with three seconds left in the contest to turn the ball back over to the Newnan.
“That play was huge,” said Newnan’s head coach Rod Ladd. “He didn’t score a lot, but that was the biggest play of the game.”
Seconds earlier, the Cougars also prevented the ball from going back over to the Grangers when Diamond Jones fell to the floor with the ball, but was able to call timeout to keep possession.
LaGrange’s final attempt at a potential game-winning shot with 1.4 seconds left, became nothing more than a desperation from half court that flew over the basket.
The victory was Newnan’s second in as many days after battling past Central-Carroll on the road Friday, where the Cougars overcame a sloppy third quarter to score 27 points in the final eight minutes.
On Saturday, Newnan again had to rally from behind, this time while down 10 points midway through the second quarter against LaGrange.
“This was a great team effort tonight,” said Ladd.
Four Cougars finished in double figures led by 20 from senior Doniel Dean, who didn’t play against Central.
Jones came off the bench to finish with 14 points while Immanuel Griggs and Isaiah Houston each scored 10.
The Grangers were paced by LePerion Perry’s 13 points and Smith’s 12 points.
LaGrange used connected on six 3-point shots in the first half, helping the team build leads of 17-9 and 33-30 over the first two quarters.
“Our defense really wasn’t very good in the first half,” Ladd said. “It got better in the second half.”
The offense rebounded as well, with Newnan getting a couple of impressive dunks by Griggs in the third quarter, the latter of which gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage.
LaGrange, however, answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Dy Dunlap and Danterious Bay to regain a 49-46 lead.
But Dean closed out the third quarter with a dunk of his own to cut LaGrange’s lead to 49-48 an then helped open a 53-49 advantage following a basket from Jones.
LaGrange cut the margin back to two on its next trip down the floor, but again the Cougars had an answer as Griggs delivered his third dunk of the game.
The Grangers were able to cut the lead to one twice with under a minute to go, but solid defense and Portress’ charge call made the difference.
COUGARS 59, GRANGERS 58
LaGrange 17 16 16 9—58
Newnan 9 21 18 11—59
Lagrange—Perry 13, Smith 12, Gerdnt 5, Hill 4, Moody 4, Dunalp 12, Williams 2, Whitfield 1, Bray 5
NEWNAN—Griggs 10, Jones 14, Houston 10, Dean 20, Williams 1, Portress 4