One of LaGrange's most successful senior classes will be honored Saturday in Mariotti Gym before the Panthers' game against USA South rival Maryville. Game time is 6 p.m.
Braxton Ford, Mark Wagner, and Mike White are playing their final game before the home crowd. The trio, all Florida natives, have played a big part in the Panthers' two USA South Tournament championships and the accompanying trips to the NCAA Division III national tournament. The trips to the NCAA tournament have been the first for any LaGrange basketball team.
Over the past three plus seasons these seniors have been a part of 62 wins. This total is the most by a senior class since the school became a NCAA Division III member. It is also the most wins by a Panther senior class in the past 36 seasons.
White, from Gulf Breeze, Fla., spent his first two years learning under former Panther great Patrick Dugger. He has become a solid low post threat on both ends of the floor. During his career White has 586 career points and pulled down 338 rebounds, plus posting five career double-doubles. This season, he has played in 20 games and made 19 starts averaging 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. White had a career-high 19 points against Toccoa Falls on Nov. 24 and a career high 16 rebounds against College of Faith on Nov. 11 2014.
Ford, from LaBelle, Fla., is a four-year letterman for the Panthers. He has played in a total of 94 games, making 42 career starts. Ford has been a solid guard with a knack for scoring from everywhere on the floor, while becoming a floor general whenever called upon. This ability has led to 732 points, 142 assists, and 55 steals on the court for the Panthers during his career.Ford is ninth on the school career list with 334 3-point field goals attempted and 11th with 120 3-point field goals made.
This season, Ford has started in 21 of 22 games, averaging a career-best 11.7 points per game. He had a career-high 26 points against Piedmont on Jan. 20, and had a span where he scored 20 or more point in three out of four games. Ford leads the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 39.4 percent and is tied in 3-point shots made with 41, which ranks him eighth in the USA South Conference.
Wagner, from Cape Coral, Fla., has played in 103 games with 84 starts. During his career at LaGrange, he has been a staple in the lineup, providing tough nosed defense and making the most clutch shots in the biggest games. Wagner currently ranks 13th on the school career points list with 1,298. He is second with 673 career 3-point attempts and third with 236 3-point field goals made. Wagner also ranks third on LC's all-time list with a career free throw shooting percentage of 83.9, third with 184 career steals, and ninth with 218 assists.
This season, Wagner is averaging a career best 14.7 points per game, which is second on the team and sixth in the USA South. He scored a career-high 33 points against Lynchburg at the Daytona Beach Shootout on Dec. 20. He leads the conference in free throw shooting at 85.2 percent, he is second in the conference with 49 steals, sixth in the conference in scoring, tied for eighth with 41 3-point field goals made, 10th with 61 assists, and eighth in minutes played. Wagner is one of only two players in the USA South conference ranked in the top 10 in more than five different categories.