Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:05 PM
The Gators were game, but their frantic fourth-quarter surge fell just short as Washington-Marion completed a sweep of the first half of the District 4-4A schedule with a 53-50 win Tuesday at LaGrange.
LaGrange cut a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to two in the final minute, but never held a lead in the game. LaGrange outscored W-M 21-13 in the final quarter and three times made it a one-possession game, but the Charging Indians did just enough to hold on.
W-M (18-5, 5-0) scored on the next possession each time LaGrange pulled within three. The only time LaGrange had the ball with a chance to tie was after W-M’s Mark Vital made a free throw with 3.1 seconds left. LaGrange’s inbounds pass went out of bounds near half-court.
W-M head coach Albert Hartwell said his team let up after leading by as many as 20 in the third quarter.
“We got complacent in the third quarter, assumed that they were going to quit, and they didn’t quit,” he said. “In a game between Washington-Marion and LaGrange, there is no quitting. They are going to keep fighting.”
The Gators (8-14, 1-4) did just that, using an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter to get within three. W-M stretched the lead back to nine, but the Gators then went on an 8-1 burst to pull within 52-50 with 7 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Trey Fountain, but never got another shot at the basket.
“We ran a scramble defense that caught them off guard, I believe,” LaGrange head coach Cary Collins said of the fourth-quarter rally.
“We were able to get some steals. The game came down to us not taking care of the ball. We had too many unforced turnovers. When you don’t get shots against teams like that, you are not going to win. I was pleased with the way we played. We showed a lot of heart. We came back, but we did not close the deal.”
W-M got a boost from its bench, which scored 27 points, including a team-high 13 by Jaylond Jackson.
“That is what I am searching for,” Hartwell said. “We want to find a few more bodies for down the stretch. We are getting a few extra bodies. Jackson showed well, (Jeremiah) Topps played well, they gave us what we needed. Seven or eight guys aren’t going to do it, we need 10 or 12 now. We are going into the second half and it is going to be tough because we are on the road for the majority of them.”
Vital added 12 points for W-M. Alonzo Pappillion led LaGrange with 23 points. David Griffin added 14.
“We have a young team that makes simple mistakes, but they play well together,” Hartwell said. “They are just scratching the surface of their talent. Tonight, Jeremiah Warren came out and played well. Overall, the kids are playing well. That is all you can ask.”