Thrilling win for Troup
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
With the game, and her team’s unbeaten record on the line, Troup High’s Samarria Weldon was up to the challenge.
Troup was trailing Sandy Creek by a point when Weldon drove to the basket and was fouled with two seconds remaining.
The foul sent Weldon to the line with a chance to tie it with one free throw, or give her team the lead with two makes.
Weldon calmly drained the first free throw, and the Troup bench erupted as the scoreboard reflected the tie score.
After collecting herself, Weldon took a breath and let her second free-throw attempt go, and it found nothing but net, and Troup had a one-point lead.
A Sandy Creek player was able to get a shot away the buzzer, but it wasn’t close, and Troup escaped with a 44-43 victory to improve to 17-0 overall, and 7-0 in Region 5-AAAA.
The Lady Tigers trailed by 10 points with less than six minutes to go, but they charged back and pulled off the thrilling win in their new gym, with their appreciative home fans looking on.
“That’s all we know, just believing in the team,” said Troup head coach Carla Thornton. “Somebody goes down, it’s the next man up. Whoever’s on the court, we’ve got faith in all those people. We played as a team. Like I said, it’s one basket at a time. We don’t need it all at once. They got their mojo back toward the end and we got away with the win.”
Sandy Creek had a 42-32 lead when Amber Gilbert hit a 3-pointer with 5:20 to go that jump-started the comeback.
Troup continued to bite into the deficit and when Jada Green scored with 58 seconds left it was tied 42-42.
A free throw gave Sandy Creek a 43-42 lead with 53 seconds left, and that’s the way it remained until Troup took possession with 11 seconds left on a jump ball.
Weldon got the ball, and she took off toward the basket and never slowed, and she was fouled while attempting a layup.
“It was huge her wanting the ball in her hands at that moment,” Thornton said. “I was telling her to pass it to her teammates, but she put her head down and went in.”
Weldon then drained both of the free throws, with neither shot even touching the rim.
“The girls have a lot of respect for her, and have all the confidence in her,” Thornton said. “I’m really proud of her.”
As for what the team’s mindset was when facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, Weldon said “you have to believe. You have to keep playing.”
The Lady Tigers did that, and now they’re five wins away from a perfect regular season.
“We’re real proud of that,” Weldon said. “We’re so happy.”
Alexcia Murphy led Troup with 15 points, Gilbert added 11 points, and Aniya Palmer scored nine points.
Troup was down 10-7 after the first quarter, and it trailed 22-14 at the half.
The Lady Tigers picked things up offensively in the third quarter with 13 points, but they were still trailing 35-27 heading to the decisive final quarter.
Sandy Creek went up by 10 before Troup rallied.
Troup has a quick turnaround with a game at Cedartown on Wednesday.
“We enjoy it tonight, and we’ve got another game tomorrow,” Thornton said.
In the boys’ game, Sandy Creek remained unbeaten in the region with a 77-54 win.
Troup was down 36-26 at the half, and it was a 53-33 game after the third period.
Eleven Troup players scored, including Gabe Stepp who led the way with 11 points.
The Tigers (8-9 overall) fell to 2-5 in the region, but they have plenty of time left to climb the ladder with five region games left.