Tigers look for turnaround
By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
The Troup Tigers came into last week’s game having won three in a row, and they were hopeful of keeping the good times rolling against two extremely capable teams.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, it didn’t work out that way.
After a 70-37 loss to Alexander, Troup (3-3) fell to Callaway 80-63 on Friday.
In both games, Troup was right there at the half, but it was unable to keep pace in the second half.
Troup has played a challenging early-season schedule, and head coach Paul Brewer said that has allowed the players to see what works, and what doesn’t.
“Early in the year, to get exposed a little bit is not a bad thing,” Brewer said.
This weekend, Troup hopes to put what it has learned to good use when it competes in a holiday tournament in Meriwether County.
Troup will play Taylor County at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Greenville High, and it will play again on Saturday at Manchester High.
If Troup makes it to the championship game, or the third-place game, it would play another game on Monday.
Saturday’s game will be played at Manchester High, where Brewer was a coach for three years.
“It’ll be good to go back,” Brewer said. “It’ll get hooted at by the fans. That’s part of it.”
Brewer said the team is still looking to develop an identity.
Brewer prefers an up-tempo, pressing style of basketball, but he doesn’t believe this team is built for sustaining that style for a full game against some of the better teams on the schedule.
“Coming from Manchester, I’d love to do nothing but run,” Brewer said. “I don’t know if I have the ball handlers to just do that against everybody.”
Against Callaway, Troup was only down by five points through three periods, but nothing went right in the fourth quarter.
Callaway sped things up in the fourth quarter, and it was able to turn a close game into a blowout.
“We did not compete poorly the other night,” Brewer said. “We just have to get better.”
Troup’s best success against Callaway came when it went to a zone defense, but even then, Brewer said a lack of rebounding was costly.
“When we did stop them, we didn’t rebound the ball,” Brewer said. “We just got hammered on the boards.”
And in the fourth quarter when the game started going south, Brewer said the transition defense wasn’t what it needed to be.
“The first thing that goes is rotating back on defense,” Brewer said. “That’s the first thing that goes out the window.”
The Tigers got 17 points from Tre Sullivan, senior post player Daryl Dunlap added 14 points, and Jamal Wilkerson added 11 points.
Wilkerson, a junior, has been the team’s leading scorer this season.
He had 29 points in the season opener against Harris County while making seven 3-pointers, and he added 31 points in the rematch against Harris County a few games later.
While Wilkerson has shown an ability to knock down 3-pointers, Brewer said making shots from the outside isn’t Troup’s game.
“We don’t really have perimeter shooters,” Brewer said. “We scored 40 points in the paint (against Callaway). That’s a lot of points in the paint. We’re going to have go in and bang on people, and tempo the ball, and play smart.”
Brewer also said, on a team without a whole lot of experience, the search for leadership continues.
“The leadership has got to be better,” Brewer said. “We have some good candidates. One of the hardest things to get high-school kids to do is to take some ownership, take some ownership of the locker room, take some ownership of practice, take some ownership of what they’ve been taught.”
After this weekend’s games, Troup will be off until Jan. 7 when it hosts Sandy Creek in a Region 5-AAAA game.
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