Troup wraps up number two seed
Published 7:34 pm Monday, February 4, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They knew what they had to do.
After a road loss to Sandy Creek on Jan. 22, the Troup Tigers were 4-4 in Region 5-AAAA, and they were part of a gaggle of teams fighting to finish second.
The Tigers, despite losing three of four games to fall to .500 in the region, were still in fine shape to secure the number two seed for the region tournament.
All the Tigers had to do was win their final four regular-season games, and they were all at home.
After beating LaGrange, Cedartown and Central-Carroll, it all came down to Saturday’s game against Cartersville.
The winner was going to earn the number two seed and the accompanying first-round bye in the region tournament.
Troup (16-8 overall), using a stingy defense, outlasted Cartersville 56-50 to finish the regular season with an 8-4 region record.
Troup will be at Sandy Creek on Friday for a semifinal game at 5:30 p.m.
Whatever happens this week, Troup is guaranteed one of the region’s four spots in the state tournament.
Saturday’s game was a marked reversal from the previous matchup between Troup and Cartersville. Cartersville seemingly couldn’t miss on the way to an 88-76 home win.
In the rematch, Cartersville started quickly with 18 points in the first quarter, but it was held to 32 points in the final three quarters combined.
“We knew a few more of their plays,” Troup head coach Blake Craft said. “We talked about their personnel, and what they like to do. We tried to make them do some things other than what they’re used to doing.”
Troup’s four-game winning streak has been fueled by the defense.
The Tigers haven’t allowed more than 50 points in any of those four games, and they held the LaGrange Grangers to 36 points to begin the streak.
“Defense is our number one thing, keying on their key players, making sure to take the ball out of their hands,” said Troup senior Jamari Thrash.
The Tigers, after scoring 24 points in the second quarter, were ahead 38-30 at the half.
The Tigers were limited to 18 points in the second half, but that was enough thanks to the defensive effort.
Gabe Cofield led Troup with 16 points while making four 3-pointers, and JaQuavo McFarland added 11 points.
Kobe Hudson had nine points, with seven of them coming in the second quarter.
When Cofield hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, the Tigers had a 50-37 lead.
The Tigers went more than six minutes without scoring to start the fourth quarter, and the Purple Hurricanes got within five points.
McFarland broke Troup’s scoreless drought when he drove for a layup with 1:33 left in the game, giving his team a 52-46 lead.
Cofield and Hudson each made two free throws down the stretch to help the Tigers hold off the Hurricanes.
Craft was encouraged not just by the effort of the players who were on the court, but by the enthusiasm shown by the men on the bench.
“The bench was excited,” Craft said. “The ones that aren’t playing, they’re cheering. When a three goes up, their arms are up. They’re celebrating with their teammates.”
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