LaGrange topped Piedmont 81-78 to cap a perfect weekend Sunday in Mariotti Gym. The Panthers' second straight nail biter evened their USA South record at 5-5 and improved their season record to 12-9.
The Panthers started the weekend ninth in the conference standings. The two wins moved LC up to sixth and just one game back of Piedmont and Maryville, who are tied for fourth.
"It was just our weekend this weekend, what a great time it was in Mariotti. " said Coach Kendal Wallace. "We always struggle on which team will show up, so we wanted to break the game into five-minute games and I felt like we the majority of those games today."
The Panthers' bench had a 30-15 advantage in the game. Drew Vanderbrook had nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Jacob Gaetanos had seven points and pulled down six rebounds. Vanderbrook and Gaetanos helped LC have a 45-36 edge in the game on the boards.
LaGrange led 48-45 at the half, overcoming an early 10-point Piedmont (12-9, 6-4 USA South) lead. The Panthers came out firing in the second half.
The Panthers went on a 17-2 run over a seven-minute span to open up a 72-54 lead midway through the half. Vanderbrook started it off with a 3-pointer, and Jamison McCray's jumper finished it.
"I thought we did a real good job coming out in the second half and putting it on them," Wallace said. "But Piedmont is a relly well coached team and they never gave up."
The Lions did rally, eventually tying the game at 76 on a 3-pointer by Chase England with 2:46 remaining. England led all scorers with 25 points.
Bonner put the Panthers back up 77-76 after making the second of two free throws. Olson made a terrific steal on the Lions' ensuing possession, then hit Bonner with a perfect pass to make it 79-76.
The Lions trailed 79-78 with 11 seconds and haad the ball with a chance to regain the lead. Peyton Luken's 3-point mark was off the mark and Vanderbrook came with the clutch rebound and was fouled.
Vanderbrook made both of the free throws to put the Panthers up 81-78. Olson intercepted Luken's long inbounds pass to end the game.
The Panthers host Greensboro next Saturday for Senior Day. Gaetanos, Olson, Vanderbrook, and Tyler Langston will be honored.
"Greensboro is one of the top programs in the conference and will be a tough test for us," said Wallace. "We would love to have everyone come out and pack the house."