Young Gators learning on the job

WESTLAKE — New-look LaGrange put together a few big spurts to pull away from Westlake Tuesday night in a 59-35 nondistrict win.

The Gators (1-3) took the lead for good with a 12-0 run in the first half. Ala’jsa Walker started the run with four free throws and Miah Alexis capped it with three straight points to put the Gators ahead 19-9.

Westlake (0-2) responded with six straight points to narrow the deficit to 19-15, but LaGrange closed the half with a 12-2 outburst to take a 31-17 halftime lead.

Kylei Leblanc scored 13 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, including eight points on put-back baskets after offensive rebounds. She finished with 15 rebounds in the game.

“She plays really hard and as she continues to get stronger, she is going to be a force for us,” LaGrange head coach La’Keem Holmes said. “Her effort was great. She saved our butts. She has a nice touch around the basket. Her effort and energy saved a lot of errant shots we had.”

Westlake pulled within 11 points in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth, but LaGrange closed the game with a 14-2 run.

Holmes said his team played well during spurts to put together runs, but struggled with consistency throughout the game.

“It was a difference of energy and focus,” Holmes said. “We are a young team and there are going to be ebbs and flows through the game and season. As we get game experience and they start to see things more than once, they’ll get better.

“Our schedule is pretty tough so they have to grow up fast. As they get comfortable, things started to settle down. All these girls are new.”

Holmes is confident the young Gators will come around.

“What I like is that they are coachable,” he said. “I can yell at them and they’ll just nod and say ‘Yes sir.’ They are accountable. Whenever they make a mistake you can see them tap their chest and say it was on them. As they get more experience, if the energy and effort is there, we’ll make less and less mistakes. We will get better day by day, month by month.”

Tierra Bargeman led Westlake with 14 points, including six consecutive in the first quarter as part of an 8-0 run that gave the Rams an early five-point lead.

Saniah Captain scored seven points off the bench for Westlake.

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