Seniors lead Lady Tigers

Published 11:41 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

By Kevin Eckleberry

The Troup Lady Tigers are headed to state.

With a pair of seniors leading the way, Troup beat Chapel Hill 47-30 on Tuesday in the opening round of the Region 5-AAAA tournament.

Troup advances to the semifinals on Thursday against Sandy Creek while securing a spot in the state tournament that begins next week.

With the game in the balance in the fourth quarter, seniors Aundracia Riggins and Jedda Madden combined for 15 points as Troup turned a tight game into a blowout.

Madden scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to give the Lady Tigers a six-point lead, and Riggins later had seven straight points to push the lead to 13.

Riggins led Troup with 17 points, and Madden added 12 points.

Amber Gilbert scored 12 points, and she never came out until she was pulled with moments remaining after the outcome had been determined.

As the fourth quarter began, Troup was clinging to a 28-26 lead.

Madden helped turn things in Troup’s favor early in the fourth quarter with four consecutive points to make it a 32-26 lead. Madden made one of those baskets after pulling down an offensive rebound, and she also had a steal that led to a layup.

Troup head coach Carla Thornton wasn’t surprised to see Madden make clutch plays like that since she’s been doing it all season long.

“She leads by example,” Thornton said. “The girls look up to her. The girls know she’s going to do what she’s supposed to do. She’s the most consistent player we have.”

Later in the quarter, it was Riggins’ turn to provide a spark.

It was a 36-30 game when Riggins knocked down a 3-pointer, and she made two straight baskets after that to extend the lead to 43-30 with less than three minutes remaining.

Troup finished the game on an 11-0 run, and Riggins scored nine of those points.

Riggins, who usually isn’t one of Troup’s leading scorers, said she received some encouragement from her teammates.

“My team kept fussing at me, get in the game, get in the game,” Riggins said. “And I did.”

Thornton used 10 players in the game, and she felt some of the younger players provided some critical contributions.

“We were short-handed at the end of the season,” Thornton said. “You’ve got somebody with an injury, somebody with the flu. I’m proud of my JV girls for coming up and help us out. That was huge for them to help us out.”

No matter what happens during the remainder of the region tournament, Troup knows it will be part of the 32-team state tournament, which is particularly meaningful for the team’s seniors.

“It’s very special, because this could be my last time playing ball,” Riggins said.