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Troup, LaGrange ready for rematch

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

It’s time for the rematch.

Earlier this season, the LaGrange Lady Grangers pulled away late for a 40-32 home win over Troup.

Today, those two rivals will meet again, and this time the game will be played in Troup’s gym.

LaGrange brings an 8-0 Region 5-AAAA record into the game, and it has a two-game lead on Sandy Creek.

Troup is 5-3 in the region, and it is only one game behind Sandy Creek for second place, so today’s game is a critical one for both teams.

If LaGrange beats Troup today and Sandy Creek on Saturday, it will wrap up the number one seed for the region tournament, even though there are two games remaining next week.

LaGrange head coach Stephen Tuck prefers if it his players focus on the little picture, though.

That begins with taking care of business against a tough Troup team.

“We’re just taking it game-by-game,” Tuck said. “Just kind of have tunnel vision to know that if you take care of each and every game, a region championship will come.”

In the first meeting between the two rivals, LaGrange went on a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to break open a close game.

Chnaireia Strozier led LaGrange with 21 points, and she was 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.

Aryan Dozier added 11 points, and she scored four of those points in the fourth quarter.

Troup hung tough and got within six late on a 3-pointer but Kiya Fulton, but the night belonged to LaGrange.

Fulton was the lone Troup player in double figures with 10 points, and Jedda Madden added seven points.

While LaGrange has the ability to score in bunches with Strozier and Dozier leading the way, Troup is an outstanding defensive team.

Troup, in fact, is the best defensive team in the region, giving up less than 38 points per game.

“They’re going to play defense. That’s who they are,” Tuck said. “That’s who Troup girls are. They’re going to be scrappy.”

The boys’ teams from Troup and LaGrange will meet for the first time since their epic game earlier this month.

Troup had a 16-point lead after the third quarter, but LaGrange came surging back for a 64-63 win.

Bo Russell led LaGrange that night with 24 points, and Daz Williams made four 3-pointers and scored 17 points.

Those two seniors led the dramatic fourth-quarter rally, and Russell made a free throw with four seconds left to give his team a one-point lead.

LaGrange stole the inbounds pass to seal the victory.

Troup’s Jarrious Jefferson led Troup in that game with 20 points, and he scored the final 11 points of the third quarter to give his team a 16-point cushion.

Troup has won three of four since that loss, and it held off a Cartersville comeback on Monday to win 65-62.

Cartersville cut what had been a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to one late in the game, but Troup kept its poise and held on for the three-point win.

As discouraging as the earlier LaGrange loss was, Troup head coach Blake Craft was hoping it would serve as a learning experience.

Sure enough, the next time the Tigers were in that situation, the result was a different one.

“I told them this loss will help us down the road, and it did tonight,” Craft said after the Cartersville game.

Today’s game features two of the region’s top players in Russell and Jefferson, and those two guards have the ability to make opposing defenses look silly.

Russell is coming off a remarkable on Tuesday when he scored 38 points in a loss to Cartersville.

Jefferson, meanwhile, scored 30 points in Monday’s win over Cartersville, and he made six 3-pointers.

In the first game, those two players combined for 44 points, with Russell’s getting the upper-hand thanks to the late rally.