MARYVILLE, Tenn. – The Huntingdon men's basketball team appeared to be in control early in the second half of Saturday's USA South Athletic Conference championship game.
But LaGrange rallied from a double-digit deficit, took the lead in the final 10 minutes and ended Huntingdon's season 94-84. LaGrange (18-10) claims its first USA South Tournament title and advances to the NCAA Tournament.
For Huntingdon (12-15), the loss marks the end of its first season of USA South competition. The Hawks overcame a 1-11 start this season and won 11 of their final 15 games.
"When you start like that and wind up playing for the conference championship, you have to hold your head up because you have accomplished something," Huntingdon head coach Mike Pugh said. "These guys improved every game, kept believing and kept playing together. They could have given up in December, but they didn't. I'm very proud of all of them."
Huntingdon built a 15-point lead in the first half, led 52-42 at the half and held a 62-48 lead with 16:10 to play in the game. But the Hawks would manage just six points in the next 11 minutes.
LaGrange used a 29-6 run to take a 77-68 lead with 5:29 to play and the Panthers extended their lead to as much as 15 points in the final two minutes.