It’s the end of the road for Troup
CARROLLTON – They had the home fans a little worried.
After trailing by 11 points early in the fourth quarter of Monday’s Region 5-AAAA tournament game against the Carrollton Trojans, the Troup Tigers found themselves within four with a little more than three minutes remaining.
The Tigers, it appeared, had a real chance of coming into the Trojans’ gym and walking away with a victory in a do-or-die game for both teams.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the comeback attempt stalled at that point.
The Trojans scored the next five points to build the lead to nine, and they were ahead by at least seven points the rest of the way on the way to a 54-40 victory.
The loss means the season is over for the Tigers, who finished with a 7-15 record, and the Trojans advanced to the tournament semifinals while earning an invitation to the state playoffs.
It was the final game for Troup’s six seniors, and Troup head coach Paul Brewer said he appreciates their contributions.
“I’m proud of our seniors for fighting,” Brewer said. “What they did for us this year, even though they’re going home disappointed, is they played hard.”
While those seniors will be missed, the future appears bright for the Tigers, with a large contingent of talented players returning, including sophomore guard Jarrious Jefferson, who scored half of his team’s points in Monday’s game.
Brewer said how successful the Tigers will be next season is largely dependent on how committed the players are to improving during the offseason.
“We told the returning starters, if you’re serious about this, go to work,” Brewer said. “This has got to be something you want to do. We should have to make you put the ball down.”
Had the Tigers won Monday’s game, they would have qualified for the state tournament, and they gave it a shot.
When Jefferson made a 3-pointer with 3:24 left in the game to cap an 8-1 run, Troup was down 39-35.
Carson Culverhouse answered with a 3-pointer on the other end, and the Trojans were off and running.
Brewer said an inconsistency on offense, combined with some trouble at times dealing with Carrollton’s pressure defense, was his team’s undoing.
“We just struggled to make shots tonight. We struggled to get good looks,” Brewer said. “We handled the press better than we did (in last week’s loss to Carrollton). But at times, it reared its ugly head and we had turnovers.”
The Tigers led 6-3 four minutes into the game, but the Trojans ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 10-6 lead.
After falling behind by six points in the second period, the Tigers got within two when Isaac Moss made two free throws with 2:47 left in the half, but the Trojans scored the next five points to take a 19-12 lead at the break.
The Trojans were still up by seven early in the third quarter when Jefferson caught fire and got his team back in the game.
Jefferson made 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions, and the Tigers went on a 9-2 run to tie it at 25-25 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
In what was a pattern throughout the game, though, it was the Trojans closing a quarter with a flourish.
Over the final four minutes of the third period, the Trojans outscored the Tigers 9-0, and they led 34-25 as the final quarter began.
The Tigers had one more run in them.
The Tigers were trailing 38-27 when Shealey scored with 6:32 left in the game, jump-starting the 8-1 run that culminated with Jefferson’s long-distance shot.
After the Trojans scored the next five points, Jefferson scored again with 2:08 remaining to make it a seven-point game, but that’s as close as the Tigers came the rest of the way.
Jefferson, who had a terrific sophomore season, exploded for 19 points in the second half while making five 3-pointers, and he finished with 20 points.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports