Strong second half powers Tigers

Published 6:19 pm Monday, December 23, 2019


 Daily News

For the first half of Saturday’s showdown with Westminster, little went right for the Troup Tigers.

The Tigers struggled on both ends of the court, and they found themselves trailing 30-21 at the halftime break.

Blake Craft, Troup’s head coach, felt like taking a step back and letting the players take charge of themselves was the right move.

“The first half, it was hard to watch. We were down nine going into the second half,” Craft said. “I kind of went to the locker room, and I said look guys, we’ve been preaching this stuff. I told my assistant coaches, we’re not going to say a thing. We’re going to see if you want it yourselves.”

So during the second half, Craft put it on the players to take what they’ve learned and apply it, without the intervention of the coaches.

That strategy paid off in a big way, with the Tigers rallying for 57-54 victory in the War Eagle Classic at Woodward Academy.

K.J. Tucker led the Tigers with 12 points, and senior Camren O’Neal chipped in with eight points.

“We came out in the second half, and the defensive intensity picked up, they were running the plays correctly, they were looking to score with purpose,” Craft said.

Craft was particularly proud of seniors Qua Johnson, Gabe Cofield, Trey Williams and Camren O’Neal.

“The seniors stepped up, and they took ownership,” Craft said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to preach. They stepped up when (the coaches) stepped out.”

While Johnson didn’t do much scoring-wise, Craft felt the leadership he provided was critical.

“This is the Qua Johnson we’ve been waiting to see for the last three years. He stepped up,” Craft said. “He only scored three points, but the stuff he did outside of scoring was so big.

“The seniors,” Craft added, “really stepped up. It was fun to watch, and the kids were having fun.”

The win came against a solid Westminster squad that came into the game with a 9-3 record.

“Westminster was a good basketball team,” Craft said. “It was good for us to see them fight. And we looked down the bench, and they’re all in it. It was like we turned the corner with this game here mentally.”

Troup ended a three-game losing streak with a 65-37 victory over Elite Scholars Academy in the War Eagle Classic.

Troup won’t play again until it hosts Chapel Hill on Jan. 3 in the Region 5-AAAA opener for both teams.