Senior powers Tigers past Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
What a day it was for Troup High’s Trey Williams.
After committing to play football at Shorter University, Williams went out and had a breakout game on the basketball court to lead Troup to a 68-60 victory over the rival LaGrange Grangers on Saturday night.
Williams, who had an outstanding senior season as a running back with more than 1,000 yards, led Troup with 21 points on Saturday, and he had 10 points in the fourth quarter to help his team pull away.
The Tigers were clinging to a three-point lead late in the third quarter when they went on a 13-2 run to take control.
Williams put the finishing touches on that run with back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Tigers a 61-47 lead with 5:20 to play.
The Tigers led by at least eight points the rest of the way, allowing them to split the regular-season series against the rival Grangers.
While everyone contributed to the victory for the Tigers, what Williams was able to do stood out.
The senior made five 3-pointers while scoring a season-best 21 points, and he was at his best during crunch time.
“Trey had a lot of pressure coming off a day when he committed to Shorter,” said Blake Craft, Troup’s head coach. “He committed, and you could see that just released him. He was locked in. He talked more at practice this past week. He wants it now. He’s got his future ready, now he’s ready to play ball. That’s the Trey we’ve been waiting for. When he does that, we score points.”
Earlier this season, in the first game played in Troup High’s new gym, LaGrange held on for a 58-54 victory.
Two weeks later the two rivals met again, this time in what may have been the final basketball game played in LaGrange High’s gym that opened its doors in 1953.
The Tigers came into the game confident, despite having dropped three straight games.
“We expected to win,” Williams said. “We were practicing all week hard.”
The Tigers were up by eight points when Williams knocked down two 3-pointers in close succession to extend the lead to 14.
Williams scored 10 of his team’s 18 points in the fourth quarter, and he also hit a big 3-pointer in the third quarter that helped get the Tigers rolling.
“He comes to work every day,” Craft said of Williams. “He’s quiet. He just works. You’re glad to see it on the last game in this gym, he plays like this. You want it for him.”
While it was a satisfying night for the Tigers, it was a frustrating game for the home-standing Grangers, who were coming off a hard-fought road loss to the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes on Friday.
“We didn’t handle the pressure good tonight,” LaGrange head coach Mark Veal said. “We had a few turnovers, and Trey for them got hot, and played a real good game. We had some lapses, and we didn’t have turnovers, and they had a guy get hot, and they shot well. That was the difference.”
Freshman Jaquavious Whitfield added 11 points for Troup, and Gabe Cofield scored 10 points.
Qua Johnson and K.J. Tucker had eight points apiece.
For LaGrange, Earley Sanders had a big game with 18 points, and Javon Brown came through with 15 points.
Kobe Jones made three 3-pointers and scored 12 points.
Early on the Grangers were in control, and they had an 18-10 lead when D.J. Burks scored on a break-away dunk to end the first quarter.
The Grangers were ahead by nine points with less than four minutes left in the second quarter when Williams got the Tigers going with a 3-pointer.
By the time the first half came to a close, LaGrange’s lead was down to 31-28.
The Grangers were ahead 36-31 two minutes into the third quarter when the Tigers went on a 14-2 run to take a 45-38 lead.
Gabe Stepp scored on a put-back with two seconds left in the third quarter, allowing the Tigers to take a 50-42 lead into the final quarter.
Nafis Carston’s dunk with a little more than six minutes to play got the Grangers within five, but a 9-0 run capped by Williams’ two 3-pointers extended the lead to 14.
The Grangers got within eight with 46 seconds left, but that’s as close as they came the rest of the way.
Both teams will return to the court on Tuesday for Region 5-AAAA games.
Troup (9-10 overall), which is 3-6 in the region, hosts Cedartown on Tuesday.
Troup has three region games remaining as it looks to make up some ground heading to the region tournament.
Earlier this season, Troup lost to Cedartown 67-51.
“It’s one game,” Craft said. “Now we worry about Cedartown. We’ve got to worry about beating Cedartown, because we didn’t show up for that one. Let’s see if we show up Tuesday.”
LaGrange (18-5 overall) is 5-5 in the region with road games remaining against Sandy Creek and Chapel Hill.
First up is Tuesday’s game at Sandy Creek.