Troup coach Paul Brewer is tired of having to give his players the same post-game talk.
Time and time again this season, the Tigers have had chances to win region games, only to be turned away late, a couple of times in heart-breaking fashion.
It happened again Tuesday night against the rival LaGrange Grangers.
The Tigers were ahead by nine points early in the fourth period, and they were still up by three with less than 10 seconds left in the game.
LaGrange’s LaPerion Perry hit a 3-pointer to force overtime, though, and Troup went on to lose 65-57.
The Tigers fell to 1-9 in Region 5-AAAA, but they’ve been competitive in almost every one of those games.
“It ain’t fun,” Brewer said of all the closes losses. “We walk back there every game and give the same daggum speech. At the same time, that’s life. Kids have to learn. Kids have to keep fighting, and keep battling. The sun’s going to come up tomorrow.”
The Tigers stormed to a 15-5 lead in the first quarter, but that lead was down to 15-12 by the close of the period.
After falling behind early in the second period, the Tigers came back strong and built a 26-22 lead at the half.
Jamal Wilkerson, who had a game-high 16 points, made a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter to help Troup take the lead at the break.
In the third period, after falling behind by a point following a 7-0 Grangers’ run, the Tigers finished the quarter on a 7-1 run to take a 43-38 lead.
Troup’s lead grew to 49-40 with 6:05 left in the game on a Tre Sullivan basket, and after the teams exhanged baskets, LaGrange went on a 9-0 run to tie it at 51-51 with 2:02 remaining.
Sammy Smith’s tip-in with 1:20 left gave Troup a 53-51 lead, and a Sullivan free throw with 29 seconds left pushed the lead to 54-51.
After a LaGrange turnover, Troup had a chance to take a commanding lead with 19 seconds left, but a missed free throw gave the ball back to the Grangers down by just three points.
Perry, a freshman, knocked down his 3-pointer with seven seconds left, and the Tigers were unable to convert on their end.
The Tigers fell behind by three early in overtime, but they tied the game at 57-57 on a Wilkerson basket and a Saye Sanders free throw.
That free throw with 1:38 remaining was the final point for Troup, though, with LaGrange scoring the game’s final eight points.
“You have to keep chopping, and keep chopping, and keep chopping, and eventually that tree’s going to fall,” Brewer said. “We can say we should have done this, should have done that. The point is, the kids played. The other kid (Perry) hit a shot. We defended, and he hit the shot. You pat him on the back.”
Dunlap added 13 points for the Tigers, and he was having a stellar all-around game before fouling out in the fourth period.
Sullivan, who had been out of action with an injury, also had 12 points for the Tigers.
The Tigers will have plenty of chances the rest of the week to gain some positive momentum heading into next week’s region tournament.
Tuesday’s game began a stretch of five games in five days for the Tigers, and the next four games will be on the road.
Troup had to re-schedule two games that were lost last week.
That busy stretch begins with today’s game at Carrollton.