So coming into last night’s season-opener here against a LaGrange team loaded with seniors, it was going to take a near-perfect effort to pull off a win.
The Lions gave the host Grangers a run for their money, erasing almost all of a 13-point halftime deficit by outscoring LaGrange 12-3 in the third quarter only to watch the Grangers notch 10-straight points to pull away in the fourth for a 69-53 win.
Earlier in the evening, the Lady Lions fell 59-32 to the Lady Grangers.
Lithia Springs opens Region 5-AAAAA play next Tuesday at Paulding County.
In the boys game, the Grangers (1-0) went nearly nine minutes without a field goal from early in the third quarter to the 5:45 mark in the fourth when Baron Smith and Kwame Brown both scored layups off steals to stretch their 45-44 lead back to 49-44. Brown added two more on a dunk with 4:40 left and the Grangers added two more scores to regain control at 55-44.
“We cut it to one and finally had a chance and then made two-straight turnovers and they got two-straight layups,” Cantrell said. “That’s the way it goes on the road. You’ve got to come ready to play. “
Neil Phillips led the Lions (0-1) with 25 points and Beau Carter finished with 17.
Phillips had eight of Lithia’s 12 points in the third quarter, six on putbacks and Carter had a layup and a big 3-pointer from the right side to get Lithia within 45-44 with 6:03 left in the game.
Lithia trailed 20-18 after the first quarter, but the Lions were outscored 20-9 in the second to trail 40-27 at the half.
“The second quarter killed us,” Cantrell said. “They just whipped us tonight. Hats off to them, they did a good job.”
In the girls’ game, Lithia Springs was playing without standout guard Tashara Jones, who was benched for violating team rules. Jones had 25 points in three quarters in a scrimmage with Chapel Hill last week and averaged 18.8 points a game last year.
With Jones out, the Lady Lions (0-1) struggled to get any offense going. LaGrange (1-0) led 15-5 at the end of the first quarter and 26-13 at the half.
Selena Crumpie had all five of the the Lady Lions’ points in the first quarter. Crumpie led all Lithia scorers with 11 points, followed by Monique Harris, who had seven.
Crumpie went toe-to-toe under the net with the Lady Grangers’ six-foot forward Kyndajah Fannin, but the Lady Lions had trouble getting shots to fall all night.
“We missed enough in the paint to make up the difference,” Lithia girls’ coach David Mills said.
The Lady Lions had a 6-2 run midway through the second quarter to get within 10 at 21-11. Joi Few hit two jumpers in the run and Tobreshia Horn added a layup.
But the Lady Grangers upped their lead to 42-23 with an 8-0 run at the end of the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth, outscoring the Lady Lions 17-9 in the final period.