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Troup wins overtime thriller

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

TUNNEL HILL – The Troup Tigers outlasted the Northwest Whitfield Bruins 56-54 in overtime on Friday night to win a thriller in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament.

Troup advances to play either White County or St. Pius X in the second round next week.

King Mwikuta came up big inside for Troup with 16 points, and senior point guard Jarrious Jefferson added 13 points and did a terrific job of running the offense according to head coach Blake Craft.

“I thought Jay controlled the game a whole lot better than he has here recently,” Craft said. “It wasn’t the scoring that got us to the next level, but how he got other people involved. The senior definitely stepped up tonight.”

Two other seniors, Tristen Ware and Montez Crowe, added 11 and six points, respectively, and Ja’Rell Smith scored five points.

Troup led 17-13 after the opening quarter, and it was ahead 24-21 at the half and 35-30 after three periods.

Northwest was down by eight points with a little more than four minutes remaining in regulation when it went on a 7-0 run to get within one.

The Bruins took a one-point lead with 30 seconds left, and the Tigers made a free throw to tie it with 25 seconds remaining.

The Bruins turned it over with two seconds left in regulation, but the Tigers were unable to hit the game-winning shot, and it was on to overtime deadlocked at 46-46.

The Bruins trailed by one point late, and they had the ball with a chance to tie it, or possibly take the lead with a 3-pointer.

Craft said the plan on defense was not to give the Bruins a good look close to the basket.

“We told them, this is what we worked on all year with our drills,” Craft said. “They didn’t get a paint touch, and we talked about that all game that whoever gets in the paint the most will win the basketball game. And the last possession, we played great defense.”

After the Bruins missed a 3-pointer, Ware made a free throw to give the Tigers a two-point lead, and Jefferson came up with a steal to clinch the victory.

“The kids were real excited, and they were pumped,” Craft said. “It was a good feeling for them, a good step.”