Men's Basketball: Panthers open 2016-17 season tonight against Pensacola Christian

Men's Basketball: Panthers open 2016-17 season tonight against Pensacola Christian

LaGrange tips off its 2016-17 season tonight against Pensacola Christian at 7 p.m. in Mariotti Gym. 

The Panthers are the preseason pick to win the USA South regular season championship this season. They are on an impressive three-year run. LC has won 55 games, two USA South tournament titles and were runner-ups once, with three straight trips to the NCAA Division III national tournament during this span.  

LC returns three of its top five scorers from last season. Senior guard Justyn Olson led the team in scoring, averaging 16.7 points per game, while earning USA South All-Conference second team honors. Junior guard Alex Bonner pulled down a team-leading 5.7 rebounds and averaged 12.5 points per game. Senior forward Drew Vanderbrook averaged 11.3 points per game and is the team's leading 3-point shooter returning.

The Panthers have tuned up for the season with exhibition games against NCAA Division I members Savannah State and the University of New Orleans.

"We played hard in both exhibition games.  We competed in spurts and showed many bright spots as well as many mistakes'" said Coach Kendal Wallace, who is starting his sixth season with the Panthers. "Both games were good for us.  I believe they helped us in the sense that we now believe we can play with anyone in our division."

Pensacola Christian comes into tonight's game with a 2-1 mark. The last three meetings with the Eagles have been decided by a total of nine points. The Panthers won 61-60 in overtime in the Eagles' last visit to Mariotti in 2014. LC leads the series 20-13 and is 13-10 at home against Pensacola Christian.

"PCC always has a strong team and we expect the same from them on Tuesday night.  We will need to be focused and prepared to play a close game," Wallace said.  "We were 10-2 at home last season and would like to see us have a great start to the season with our home opener on Tuesday being a win."
The Panthers will play Emory & Henry and the University of Dallas in the Covenant Classic on Friday and Saturday. They return home Tuesday, Nov. 22 to face Rust at 7:30 p.m.