Troup playing for third place
Published 11:37 pm Friday, February 9, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
She was unstoppable.
As the Troup Lady Tigers looked to bounce back from a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter of Thursday’s Region 5-AAAA semifinal game against Sandy Creek, sophomore post player Amber Gilbert took over.
After scoring with 58 seconds left in the third quarter to make it a seven-point game, Gilbert made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut Sandy Creek’s lead to 34-30.
Gilbert wasn’t done.
She began the fourth quarter by making two free throws to get Troup within two.
After a Jedda Madden free throw, Gilbert scored seven consecutive points, capped by a 3-pointer with 5:45 to play, to give Troup a 40-36 lead.
In a span of about three minutes, Gilbert scored 14 points to help Troup turn a nine-point deficit into a four-point lead.
Unfortunately for Gilbert, and the Lady Tigers, she fouled out with a little more than four minutes to play.
Troup was limited to four points the rest of the way, and Sandy Creek rallied for a 46-44 victory.
Sandy Creek advanced to today’s region-championship game against LaGrange, while Troup will play Central-Carroll in the third-place game.
While it was a difficult loss, it was a memorable performance by Gilbert, who began the season on the sideline as she recovered from offseason knee surgery but is obviously at full strength now.
“I think she wanted it,” Gilbert said. “We’ve been talking about what she needs to do, her stepping up and being a leader.”
The Lady Tigers, even without Gilbert, had their chances at the end, but their inability to get a crucial rebound late was their undoing.
In the final 30 seconds, Sandy Creek missed six consecutive free throws, but it got three straight offensive rebounds to maintain possession.
After the third offensive rebound, Sandy Creek’s Jania Hodges made a free throw with one second to complete the scoring, and Troup didn’t have time to get a final shot off.
“Sometimes it’s hard to bounce back after a loss like that,” Thornton said. “We did see some positive things, but like I told them the last couple of days, this game is going to come down to rebounding. And it did. That was my main focus all week was boxing out and rebounding. It’ll come down to who wins on the boards.”
Kiya Fulton added nine points for Troup, and she was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, and she made four straight in the fourth quarter after Gilbert fouled out.
Madden added six points for Troup.
It was a heart-breaking loss, but at least the Lady Tigers have more basketball to play.
“It’s not the last game, but that hurts,” Thornton said.
Had the Lady Tigers won, they would have guaranteed themselves a home game in the state tournament next week.
Now, Troup will be on the road, either as the number three or four seed.
Troup has beaten Central-Carroll twice this season, both by double-digit margins.