Troup advances in region tournament

Published 11:45 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2018

By Kevin Eckleberry

It was anybody’s game at the half.

The Troup Tigers, needing a victory to assure themselves of a state berth, were clinging to a three-point lead at halftime of Wednesday’s Region 5-AAAA tournament game against Cedartown at LaGrange High.

The second half was all Troup, though.

The Tigers held the Bulldogs to 14 points in the final two quarters, and they cruised to a 46-32 victory to keep their season alive.

Troup will play top-seeded Sandy Creek on Friday at 7:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the region-championship game on Saturday against either LaGrange or Cartersville.

Whatever happens this weekend, Troup will be one of the region’s four participants in the state tournament.

Jarrious Jefferson, Troup’s outstanding senior guard, led the way with 18 points, and Montez Crowe and Andy Boykin had 11 points apiece.

The Tigers came into the game knowing a loss would mean the end of the season, and the players were well aware of that.

“If we’d lost we would have been out,” Jefferson said. “We had to win this game.”

The Tigers came out strong offensively, with Jefferson and Crowe combining for 15 points in the first quarter to give their team a 15-13 lead.

Jefferson and Crowe both hit two 3-pointers in the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, both teams struggled offensively, and the Tigers led 21-18 at the half.

The Tigers held the Bulldogs to four points in the third quarter, and they were ahead 29-22 as the final period began.

King Mwikuta, a junior post player, provided a spark off the bench in the third quarter with a pair of baskets to help the Tigers stay ahead.

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers put it away.

After the Bulldogs got within five, Boykin scored inside to give Troup a 32-25 lead, and Jefferson had the next two baskets to make it an 11-point game with 6:05 to play.

The Tigers continued to pull away, and Jefferson put an exclamation point on the victory with a break-away dunk with 2:40 left to give his team a 44-27 lead.

“I feel like we’re a better second-half team, and we got it going in the second half,” Craft said. “We switched our defense a little bit. Out of five possessions, we got three steals, two blocked shots.”

Craft felt his team’s depth made a difference.

Nine Tigers played, and they all made major contributions, whether they were scoring, getting rebounds, blocking shots, dishing assists, or playing lock-down defense.

One of those players, Lenntavis Harper, didn’t score, but he played in all four quarters and provided some energy off the bench.

“I just want to help the team out as much as I can,” Harper said.

Next up for Troup is a strong Sandy Creek team that won a tie-breaker with Cartersville to earn the top seed.

It’ll be a tough challenge, and another difficult game awaits on Saturday, but Craft is confident in his team.

“We’ve got a legitimate shot to win the region championship,” Craft said.