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Troup finds new basketball coach

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – There’s a new head Tiger.

Blake Craft, a 2012 graduate of LaGrange College, has accepted the position as the head boys’ basketball coach at Troup High.

Craft, who is taking over  the program at Troup from Paul Brewer, began his coaching career during the 2012-2013 season when he led the freshman program at LaGrange High.

During the past two seasons, Craft was a varsity assistant coach at LaGrange under head coach Mark Veal.

Last season, LaGrange won a third straight region championship and reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Craft has also served as the head boys’ coach at Gardner Newman Middle School

When Craft heard of the opening at Troup, he jumped at the opportunity.

“This is my goal to be a head coach,” Craft said. “My wife’s from here, and she didn’t really want to move. So I thought, I’m going to go for it.”

Craft added that “I’ve always said if any of the three jobs come open in this county it’s a good situation.”

Craft has already met with many of the members of the Troup team, including rising senior guard Jarrious Jefferson, who averaged closed to 20 points per game last season.

“I’ve talked to a majority of the guys,” Craft said. “I definitely reached out to them. And I talked to some of the ones who hadn’t been playing. I’m excited.”

The Tigers haven’t had a winning record in a number of years, although they did reach the state tournament last season before falling to Blessed Trinity in the first round.

Craft will inherit a veteran team, with most of the players from last season’s team set to return.

Craft said he’ll be spending a lot of time with the players in the coming months.

“This summer, it’ll be more on getting to know them,” said Craft.

Craft said he’ll be offering workouts for the players throughout the summer.

After graduating from LaGrange College, Craft was hired by Mike Pauley, who at the time was the head boys’ basketball coach at LaGrange High.

Pauley, who is now the athletic director at LaGrange, gave Craft a glowing recommendation to the folks at Troup.

“I told Mark (Veal), I realize this is a blow losing him, but his goal from the start was to be a head coach,” Pauley said. “So he got a chance to be a head coach.”

Pauley said he’s also happy to see someone get a chance “to fulfill a dream.”