Sandy Creek is bringing a new trophy back to Tyrone after battling the LaGrange Grangers on their home court Saturday night.
The Lady Patriots continued their tremendous turnaround under first-year coach Janie Hodges, rearranging the Grangers 62-45 to claim the region championship.
“Before the season, the girls made a sign that said ‘Road to the Ring.’ I reflected back on that (before the game) and asked them ‘Who’s standing your way?,’” said Hodges, who took over a team that won nine games last year and led them to 20 wins so far this season. “We’ve come a long way, and I told them, win or lose, you’ve got to just put it all out there, and that’s what they did.”
LaGrange built up an early lead, keeping the Patriots from establishing an early rhythm with a full court press. The first quarter belonged to the Grangers, but Kasey Toles finished it off on a strong note with a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to 17-12.
The Patriots figured out the press and got their offense in gear in the second quarter, both inside and out. Daija Powell battled in the paint for a putback and Toles hit from deep again to cut the game to three points. Amara Owoh corralled a loose ball and launched a full-court pass to Powell for two, and Shanquaylia Stanton wowed with a no-look pass to Nina Lum for a bucket as the Patriots trailed 26-24 at the half.
Stanton continued flustering the Grangers, tying the game up to start the second half with a baseline jumper. Paris Thompson pulled down a rebound, and key ball movement kicked it around to Stanton for a three and a lead the Patriots would not relinquish. A corner three from Toles made it 37-33 in Sandy Creek’s favor after the third.
The Patriots left no doubt, closing out the fourth with a furious push. Powell put up another putback, and Stanton added a three-point play to start the frame on a 5-0 run. They kept building, Toles sinking another 3-pointer and Thompson adding a paint bucket to make it a 15-4 streak to put the game out of reach. Sandy Creek took care of business down the stretch, hitting their free throws to seal up a commanding 62-45 to claim the region crown.
The region title is sweet, but Hodges’s message for her team is simple.
“We’re back to work on Monday.”
Sandy Creek boys fall to LaGrange in overtime defeat
Sandy Creek’s bid for a region title sweep came up short with loss in a battle of elite teams at LaGrange Saturday night.
The boys championship was a game befitting a region title game between two top five teams. Four quarters would not be enough as LaGrange rallied late for a 65-58 overtime win.
The Patriots owned the early stages of the game. A KJ Wilkins tip-in gave them the lead at 4-2, and they would hold it until early in the fourth quarter. Wilkins, Chris Porter, and Jarred Godfrey each hit from deep as they used the long ball to build an early lead. They held the ball for the final minute, slowing down the tempo en route to a 15-10 first quarter lead.
Wilkins fed Eric Williams on a backdoor cut for two and hit his own baseline jumper, and Evan Jester put in four straight points as the lead stayed steady. Porter drained his second 3-pointer of the half as the Patriots stayed in front 27-23 at halftime.
Wilkins bombed from downtown again, but the Grangers were also heating up, slicing the deficit down to just 38-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
Jester opened the fourth with a putback, but LaGrange answered with six-point run to grab the lead. The remaining minutes of regulation were a back-and-forth affair, the Grangers never getting in front by more than two points after Godfrey’s three knotted it back up at 43-43. A TJ Bickerstaff runner and another Wilkins three made it a 50-50 game, and three straight from Williams kept it 54-54 with 1:20 left to play. Williams dished to Jester for a pair to tie it again at 56-56 with 30 seconds to play. LaGrange missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Sandy Creek missed two free throws that could have ended the game, instead sending it to overtime.
Williams got the hoop for two to start overtime and give his Patriots a 58-56 lead. LaGrange locked in from there, finishing off on a 9-0 run to seal up the region crown with a 65-58 victory.
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