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Lady Tigers flying high

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

They’ve got everything working.

For the Troup Lady Tigers, there were plenty of question marks coming into the season.

The only returning starter was Amber Gilbert, and Troup head coach Carla Thornton knew she was going to have to rely on a bunch of unproven players.

Early on, an inexperienced Troup team struggled.

Troup was competitive in its first three games, but it lost them all, including a triple-overtime setback to McIntosh.

Beginning with a 46-14 win over Valley on Dec. 8, though, Troup has been rolling.

With Tuesday’s road victory over Central-Carroll, Troup (11-5 overall, 4-1 in Region 5-AAAA) has won 11 of its past 13 games.

Troup’s only losses during that 13-game stretch came to Harrison, which has played for back-to-back state titles in Class AAAAAA, and to Sandy Creek, which has won two straight Region 5-AAAA tournament championships.

Troup will look to keep the good times rolling when it travels north to take on Cartersville today.

Troup will be at home on Saturday against Chapel Hill, ending a stretch of four consecutive road games in a span of eight days.

Wherever the Lady Tigers have been playing, they’ve been tough to beat.

Gilbert, a junior post player, has been terrific, leading the team in scoring while providing invaluable leadership.

Gilbert was limited to six points in Tuesday’s win over Central-Carroll, but coach Carla Thornton said she still played a major role in the win.

“Amber she had a down game offensively, they fouled her every time she got the ball, but she got everybody else the ball,” Thornton said.

The only other Troup player who saw significant playing time last season is sophomore Jada Green, but even she has taken on a different role.

“She changed positions,” Thornton said. “I moved her to point guard about the second game of the season.”

Three of Troup’s other key players are freshmen, including Aniya Palmer, who has been one of the team’s leading scorers.

Freshmen Samarria Weldon and Monyia Murphy have also occupied critical roles.

For Thornton, the freshmen remind her of a group of players she worked with at Gardner Newman Middle School before she became the coach at Troup.

That group, including guard Britteny Tatum who went on to star at Columbus State, helped LaGrange reach the state semifinals.

“Our Gardner Newman girls went over to LaGrange, and they went to the final four that first year,” Thornton said.

Thornton sees the same level of dedication in the young players on this Troup team.

“It’s the work ethic. They’re gym rats,” Thornton said. “They love the game.”

Troup reaches the halfway point of the region schedule today, and it begins the second half with Saturday’s home game against Chapel Hill.

Troup will play five of its final six regular-season games at home, with the lone exception coming on Jan. 22 when it visits Sandy Creek.

Also today, Troup’s boys’ team will look to bounce back from 64-61 loss to Central-Carroll.

That loss left the Tigers (11-6 overall) with a 3-2 region record.

Also today, Callaway’s basketball teams will begin the second half of their Region 5-AA schedules against rival Heard County.

Both Callaway teams are playing well.

The Cavaliers (7-8) are 6-1 in the region, while the Lady Cavaliers (8-8 overall) are 5-2 in region play.

Callaway’s teams opened region play with road wins over Heard County earlier this season.

LaGrange High’s teams are off today, and they’ll be at home against Central-Carroll on Saturday for the start of the second half of the Region 5-AAAA schedule.

The Grangers (10-9 overall) are looking to get things turned around after dropping four straight games to fall to 2-4 in the region.

The Lady Grangers (9-10 overall) snapped a seven-game losing streak with Tuesday’s road win over Chapel Hill.

LaGrange finished the first half of the region schedule at 1-5.