Tigers fight hard in loss
Published 8:21 pm Monday, February 18, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
TOCCOA – They went down swinging.
The Troup Tigers trailed by 18 points in the second half of Friday’s state-tournament game against Stephens County, and they were still facing a 14-point deficit as the fourth quarter began.
The Tigers weren’t about to go away quietly, though.
Troup staged a furious fourth-quarter rally and got as close as one point, but it was Stephens County hanging on for the 62-59 win.
While Stephens advances to the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament, while Troup finished with a 17-10 record.
It was a successful season for the Tigers, but they wanted more.
“We had a great year, but I’m glad to see that the kids were let down,” said Troup head coach Blake Craft “That says they have higher expectations.”
The Tigers were down 32-22 at the half, and things didn’t improve much in the third quarter.
Stephens County led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, and it was ahead 51-37 as the final quarter began.
The tide had begun to turn a bit toward the end of the third quarter, and the Tigers kept that momentum going in the final period.
Shots that weren’t falling earlier in the game started to connect, and the Tigers went on a 14-4 run to get within four.
After the Indians went back up by seven, the Tigers got within one in the game’s closing moments.
Trailing by three, the Tigers had the ball at the end, but a potential game-tying 3-pointer didn’t connect.
Craft said Camren O’Neal, who hadn’t been getting much playing time of late, provided a huge lift in the second half.
“He played great defense. He played great offense. He did it all,” Craft said. “He sparked all the kids. You could feel the energy erupt when he went in. He hasn’t played much recently, and he kept buying into what we were saying. When his time came, he was ready. All the kids fed off it. It was awesome.”
JaQuavo McFarland, who enjoyed an exceptional senior season, led Troup with 14 points.
Kobe Hudson added 10 points, Gabe Hubbard scored nine points, and Jamari Thrash chipped in with seven points. O’Neal scored six points to help power the second-half comeback.