Tigers get defensive in win over Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The shots aren’t always going to fall.
While offense can come and go, the Troup Tigers pride themselves on playing lock-down defense each game.
The defensive effort was on point during Saturday’s showdown with the rival LaGrange Grangers.
The Tigers held the Grangers to 19 points through three quarters, and they eased to a 57-38 victory.
Troup (13-8 overall) improved to 5-4 in Region 5-AAAA, and LaGrange (11-12 overall) fell to 3-7 in the region.
“That is the main thing is defense,” said senior guard Brandon Smith. “If our offense isn’t on, our defense is always on. You can have a bad game offensively, but our defense creates our offense.”
By the time the Grangers found their offensive footing in the fourth quarter, the outcome had all but been determined.
“We were locked in (defensively),” Troup head coach Blake Craft said. “When we’re locked in, we’re a good team. And people don’t shoot as well here.”
Offensively, it was all about balance for the Tigers.
Ten Troup players scored, including Smith, who led the team with 13 points.
Kobe Hudson and Isaiah Cox had nine points apiece, and Gabe Cofield and Joko Willis each scored seven points.
“This is what we want,” Craft said of the scoring balance. “We don’t care who scores, as long as we score. We don’t care who gets the stop, as long as we get the stop.”
Jalen Parker and Kobe Jones scored nine points apiece for LaGrange, and they combined for 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Kindae Maddox hit a 3-pointer early to give the Grangers a 3-2 lead, but the Tigers dominated the rest of the first quarter to go up 16-5.
Smith knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 5-3 lead, and they never trailed again.
“In my mind, I felt I had to step up, because I’m a senior,” Smith said. “I had to step up, and set the tone at the beginning of the game.”
Troup finished the first quarter in style, with JaQuavo McFarland tossing a pass to Willis, who slammed the ball home to finish the alley-oop.
The story was much the same in the second quarter, with the Tigers outscoring the Grangers 12-7 to take a 28-12 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, Cofield scored seven consecutive points, and his 3-pointer with two minutes to play gave the Tigers a 43-17 lead.
Moments later, Willis was fouled while scoring, and he made the free throw to put the Tigers on top by 29 points.
By the time the third quarter came to a close, Troup had a 46-19 lead.
The Grangers got within 17 with 4:52 left when Parker made a 3-pointer, but that’s as close as they came.
“If we keep people in the high 40s and low 50s, we’ve got a chance to win every game,” Craft said. “Right now, we’re scoring more than we have been. (The football players are) getting their legs under them and they’re becoming more basketball guys.”