Keep playing until the clock hits zero.
That’s a lesson every coach tries to get across to his players.
No matter how desperate a situation may seem, as long as there is time on the clock, there’s hope.
The Troup Tigers proved that to be true Saturday night during a wild ballgame against the Columbus Blue Devils.
With a minute left in the game, the Blue Devils were ahead by 12 points, and even after Jamal Wilkerson made a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, the Tigers were still in a nine-point hole.
But that 3-pointer jump-started a furious rally that ended with Troup tying the score at 46-46 at the close of regulation.
Troup then out-scored Columbus 13-6 in overtime to claim a 59-52 victory.
The Tigers, who lost in overtime to Carrollton on Friday, improved their Region 5-AAAA record to 1-2.
Wilkerson had a huge night for Troup with 34 points, and Tre Sullivan added 10 points.
“Playing (against Carrollton), we probably should have won, and I know I didn’t sleep well,” Troup head coach Paul Brewer said. “I think we kind of slept-walked through a lot of the (Columbus) game.”
The Tigers woke up just in time, though.
Over the final 34 seconds of regulation, Troup out-scored Columbus 12-0 to send the game to overtime.
Wilkerson got it started with his 3-pointer, and after a technical foul on Columbus, Wilkerson made two free throws with 30 seconds left to make it a 46-39 game.
Columbus then turned the ball over, and Wilkerson drained a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left, and what had been a 12-point deficit moments before was down to four.
After yet another Columbus turnover, Sullivan came down with an offensive rebound, and he scored with 19 seconds left, and the Tigers were within two.
Columbus then turned the ball over for the third straight time, and Troup had the ball with a chance to tie it, or even take the lead with a 3-pointer.
Wilkerson was fouled with five seconds left, and he went to the line for two free-throw attempts.
Both attempts found nothing but net, and the game was tied 46-46, and it was on to overtime.
The Tigers were trailing by a point when Wilkerson made a 3-pointer with 2:10 left in the game.
Columbus got as close as one point with 1:52 remaining, but Daryl Dunlap made back-to-back baskets to give Troup a 55-50 lead with 1:15 left.
Troup’s lead was at least four points the rest of the way.
Had the Tigers lost the game, they would have fallen to 0-3 in an extremely deep region, and all three of those losses would have come at home.
Instead, Troup has a region win on the board, and it will have a chance to build some momentum with games against Fayette County and LaGrange this week.
“When the region tournament pops up, you know there’s a win over there,” Brewer said. “That’s why it’s so important.”
In Saturday’s girls’ game, a strong Columbus team beat Troup 77-30.
The Lady Blue Devils were up 19-9 after the first quarter, and they extended that lead to 35-15 at the half.
Hoping to find some momentum in the third period, Troup was instead outscored 26-8 to fall behind 61-25 heading into the final quarter.
Akhya Mitchell led Troup with 10 points, and Kwyneshia Spence scored nine points.