Fast start powers Troup
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
TYRONE – There was no hangover effect.
One day after a loss to Cartersville that cost them a chance to play for a region championship, the Troup Tigers returned to the court on Saturday to play Cedartown in the third-place game.
If the Tigers (17-9) were still dwelling on the previous night’s disappointing setback, it didn’t show.
Troup surged to a 43-21 lead at the half, and it eased to a 72-46 victory to finish third in Region 5-AAAA.
Stephens County, the second-place team from Region 8-AAAA, will host Troup at 7 p.m. on Friday in the opening round of the state tournament.
The Tigers finished second in the region during the regular season, and they were hoping to be in the championship game on Saturday against the Sandy Creek Patriots.
Troup struggled to get anything offensively against Cartersville, though, on the way to a 53-43 semifinal loss.
The players took out some of that frustration on Cedartown to sew up the third seed.
Troup also finished third in the region tournament last season, but second-year head coach Blake Craft said the mood among the players was a lot different this year.
“We’re let down being in the third-place game. We’re mad,” Craft said. “That’s the difference. Last year we were happy. We were going to the state playoffs. We expected to go to state this year.”
While the Tigers aren’t seeded as high as they wanted to be, they’re still playing, which is what matters this time of year.
“Like coach said in the locker room, the record doesn’t matter now,” senior JaQuavo McFarland said. “Everybody is 0-0. You have to come out and play like it’s your last game.”
After scoring 43 points in Friday’s loss to Cartersville, Troup scored that many points in the first half alone against Cedartown.
As has been the case throughout the season, it was all about balance for the Tigers.
Thirteen different Troup players scored, including McFarland, who led the way with 13 points. Fellow senior Brandon Smith added 11 points, and Isaiah Cox and Andy Boykin had eight points apiece.
“It doesn’t matter who the leading scorer is,” said McFarland, Troup’s leading scorer this season. “I don’t even have to touch the ball. Winning’s all that matters.”
Leading 16-10, the Tigers exploded for 27 points in the second quarter to take a 43-21 lead at the break.
Nine Troup players scored in the second quarter, with Smith and McFarland scoring five points apiece.
The Tigers led by as many as 26 points in the third quarter when Gabe Hubbard made a 3-pointer.