The Central High School girls' basketball team found itself in a back-and-forth slugfest versus LaGrange to open Region 5-AAAA play on Tuesday night.
When the final whistle blew, it was the visiting Lady Grangers who ended up prevailing in a 48-44 overtime tilt over the Lady Lions.
The league showdown started off as a tight affair with both Central (7-5, 0-1 Region 5-AAAA) and LaGrange (5-8, 1-0) fighting to gain an edge offensively. The scoring efforts of Haley Fehring, aided by the assists of sophomore Nyah Houston, led to Central ending the first with a 12-11 advantage.
The second quarter was an even bigger defensive struggle as points came at a premium for both teams. The Lady Lions would find themselves carrying a slim 19-17 lead into the locker room.
Tied at 26-all heading into the fourth, both ballclubs started to pick up the pace in an effort to lock down the all important first region 'W' of the season. Five straight points from Teonna Thomasson would give the Lady Lions the lead, only for the Lady Grangers to storm right back and reclaim it.
Down 42-39 with 40 seconds remaining, sophomore guard Hannah Harding buried a clutch 3-pointer to re-tie the evenly-matched affair and send it into overtime.
In OT, just six points was all it took for the Lady Grangers to hold off the Lady Lions and escape with a hard-fought region road victory.
"It was a tight ballgame the whole way. LaGrange always brings a good squad and we knew that it was going to be a tough one coming in," Central head coach Josh Smith said. "Both defenses were in each other's face and that makes for fun basketball. Last year, that squad beat us by 20 and 25, so us taking them to overtime shows a lot of progress with our girls. We tried to steal one from them here and came up a little bit short. But it wasn't for a lack of effort because our girls played their tails off, for sure."
Fehring led for the Lady Lions with 17 points and eight rebounds. The Lady Lions, who are still readjusting after a senior point guard Haley Luke went down with a season-ending injury, will try again for their first region win this Friday when they host Cartersville at 7 p.m.
"We're predominantly ninth and 10th-graders right now, but we're going to keep working," Smith said.