The LaGrange College Men's Basketball team opened its season in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Huntingdon Classic, a 2-day tournament where the Panthers took on Berry College on Saturday and the following day faced Millsaps College.
In game one against Berry, the Panthers started hot out of the gates, and through one half, LaGrange held a 46-34 lead. Brodie Scott and Kyle Smith provided big bench points throughout the half, as Scott had 13 at the break, and Smith had 12.
The story changed in the second half, as the Panthers were outscored by 12. LC held a lead of 10 with nine and a half minutes remaining, but a Viking onslaught put the Panthers down by two late. Two final baskets by Camerin Lyons put the Panthers tied at 73-73 at the end of the second half, sending the game to overtime. LC gave up 15 points in the period and only scored 10, and the Panthers fell 88-83.
"We let one slip away," said head coach Kendall Wallace when asked about how the game unfolded. "We played extremely well for 38 minutes. Unfortunately, the game lasted 45 minutes. We beat them across the board on the stat sheet besides free throws where we shot 8 and they shot 32. We didn't shoot it particularly well down the stretch and that was our demise."
On Sunday, the Panthers took on Millsaps College and struggled out of the gate. At four minutes in, the team found themselves in a seven-point deficit. LC clawed back and by halftime, Millsaps' lead was down to four.
The Panthers had to keep climbing back, as they couldn't find the lead until a Brodie Scott layup put LC up one with 1:23 left in the game. Good free-throw shooting and solid defense extended their lead to four with seven seconds left. A late Millsaps three cut the lead to one, but the Panthers were able to get the ball in bounds and secure a 68-67 victory.
"We came out extremely flat with no energy," said Wallace when asked about how it felt to secure the first win of the season. "We struggled all day. Our experience down the stretch proved that we know how to win games, but if we don't play hard, play together and play smart we won't be successful."
The Panthers had a couple of players shine throughout the tournament, both old and new faces. Junior Camerin Lyons averaged 15.5 points per game over the 2 contests, including a 23-point performance against Berry, as well as compiling eight assists for the tournament.
Sophomore Kyle Smith scored 20 points and 13 points respectively in key bench minutes while also grabbing nine rebounds overall. Freshman Brodie Scott also provided more key bench minutes for the Panthers, playing over 30 minutes in both games, scoring 27 points overall, including those 13 in the first half against Berry while also grabbing nine rebounds.
The team overall flowed through fifth-year Bershard Edwards, who averaged 17 points per game over the tournament, including knocking down clutch free throws to help LaGrange hold on against Millsaps.
"I really like this team and our ability to try to find a way to get better with a loss or a win," said Wallace. "We either win or learn. We have a very good future with this group."
The Panthers will debut at home against Birmingham-Southern on November 18in the Wingate by Wyndham Classic, a start of a three-game homestand for the Panthers. They host Sewanee on the 19th and Pensacola Christian on the 21st.
Story by Eli Rogers