Coach Kendal Wallace picked up his 100th career win as LaGrange beat Berea 97-90 in Mariotti Gym on Saturday. The USA South victory evened the Panthers record at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
"This is a testament to my coaching staff and the excellent players we have recruited," Wallace said of the coaching milestone. "I don't know if there is anything special I've done, no secret recipe to what we're doing. We just take things very serious and if you're going to do something try to do your best. Luckily, I've had good guys come in here and buy into that and believe what we're trying to do here."
Junior Travis Thompson and senior Alex Bonner combined for 41 points to lead LC. Thompson finished with 23 points, while Bonner added 18, 16 coming in the second half. Thompson and Bonner scored the Panthers' final 11 points. The duo helped overcome Berea's Torell Carter's game-high 38 points.
"Hopefully, being a veteran coach I know to go to my guys that do provide buckets late down the stretch and are very good free throw shooters," Wallace said. "It's not hard to say Alex get the ball and take care of it. I'm very proud of Travis and Alex, I thought they had great games, and most importantly Duncan Parker with a double-double tonight was huge for us, he basically commanded the rebounds.
Parker recorded his first career double-double with a career high 10 points, while pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. Parker helped the Panthers hold a 41-38 edge on the boards.
The Panthers were playing their first game since facing Covenant on Nov. 30. They showed no signs of rust in jumping out to a 12-2 lead. The Mountaineers came back and took a 23-19 lead with 8:24 left in the half.
Wallace went to his bench with six minutes remaining. Freshman Lincoln Anderson, who had 11 points, scored seven quick points in six minutes. He started a 10-0 run with a 3-pointer. Anderson's free throw put the Panthers up 41-34. Berea drew within three, 41-38, by halftime.
"I feel like we have a bench full of quality players and sometimes it's very difficult to figure out which one to put in at the right period of time," Wallace pointed out. "A lot of time we're trying to figure out who's playing well and who's not. Luckily for us, we do have some good freshmen that were able to come in and contribute in the early parts of the game."
Jalen McCallum sank a short jumper off a pass from Thompson to break a 74-74 tie with 6:57 left in the game. Holt Shannon was fouled hitting a trey and sank the free throw to complete the four-point play and put LC up 82-75. Berea would get no closer than five points the rest of the way as Thompson and Bonner took over.
The Panthers host Maryville in a USA South game Sunday at 3 p.m.