After going 4-0 in the early part of the season, the LaFayette Ramblers began the Region 6-AAAA portion of the schedule on Tuesday night, expecting a tough battle against the visiting Pickens Dragons.
The battle, however, turned into a rout.
LaFayette hit eight 3-pointers in the first half alone, opened up a 44-point lead midway through the third quarter and coasted to a 71-46 victory that moved them to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in region play.
"We were able to get a big lead and get some other guys some valuable playing time, which is only going to help us down the road," head coach Hank Peppers said. "I was very proud of our defensive intensity and our effort. We really shared the ball, moved it and were able to knock down some shots. Everyone's pulling in the right direction and as long as we keep doing that, we can be a scary team by the end of the season."
The Ramblers led 26-10 by the end of the first quarter, spurred on by a raucous student section. Alex Kelehear and LaTrail McClinic drained threes on back-to-back possessions with 2:10 to go in the half, which extended LaFayette's lead to 23, and they would take a 42-18 advantage into the locker room.
The third quarter would be more of the same as LaFayette opened the second half on a 26-6 run to give them their biggest lead of the night at 68-24 before Pickens scored the final seven points of the quarter.
With its starters long having ended their night, LaFayette's reserves got plenty of second-half action in a fourth-quarter that was shortened to six minutes by the mercy rule. Pickens would outscore LaFayette in that final period, 15-3, but it was much too little, much too late for the Dragons.
Kelehear finished with 21 points to go with seven rebounds and several steals. Tyrese Hunter added 14 points, followed by McClinic with eight, while Caleb Boyd and Dee Southern had six each.
Seth Bishop had 12 points for the Dragons.
LaFayette will head to Northwest Whitfield on Friday for a huge early-season contest against the Bruins before returning home on Saturday afternoon to face LFO in a non-region game.
"Big game on Friday," Peppers added. "We're excited. If you're a competitor, you like big games and we have a lot of competitors on our team. We're all looking forward to it."
Pickens girls 64, LaFayette 26
In the opener, the Lady Ramblers dropped to 0-5 overall and 0-1 in region play.
Jada Allmon had seven points for LaFayette, while Hannah Blevins added five.