Lady Tigers lose a close one
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Lady Tigers stood toe-to-toe with Sandy Creek, but it wasn’t their day.
Sandy Creek, which has won back-to-back Region 5-AAAA tournament titles, outscored Troup by 10 points in the fourth quarter to secure a 44-40 victory on Saturday.
It was, nonetheless, an impressive showing by Troup against a Sandy Creek team that returned many of the same players who celebrated a region title last year.
“We know that we can play with them,” Troup head coach Carla Thornton said. “There were some things that we didn’t do. We just have to do a better job executing mentally. That’s what it came down to.”
Troup (8-5 overall), which had won eight of its previous nine games, fell to 1-1 in the region.
Amber Gilbert led Troup with 19 points, and she was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Freshman Samarria Weldon added eight points, and Jada Green scored seven points.
Gilbert is the only player who started for Troup last season, while Sandy Creek returns most of its keys players.
“They’re experienced. Their whole team is back,” Thornton said. “Other than Amber, we don’t have that. Jada played last year, but she was a role player. So I feel like they gained confidence after this game.”
After falling behind 13-8 at the close of the opening quarter, Troup dominated the second period to take a 25-19 lead at the half.
The two teams played on even terms in the third quarter, and Troup held a 34-28 lead heading to the final period.
The Lady Tigers still had a five-point lead when the Lady Patriots went on a 9-0 run to take a 42-38 lead with less than two minutes to play.
Aniya Palmer broke the drought for Troup with a basket with 1:28 remaining, cutting Sandy Creek’s lead to 42-40.
Sandy Creek turned the ball over with 26 seconds left, and Troup got the ball back with an opportunity to tie it or take the lead with a 3-pointer.
The Lady Tigers turned the ball over before they got a shot away, though, and the Lady Patriots made a pair of free throws with six seconds left to go up by four and salt the game away.