Troup wins round three against LaGrange
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
TYRONE – Round three went to the Troup Tigers.
During the regular season, the boys’ teams from Troup and LaGrange played twice, with each team winning once.
The third time around, it was the Tigers holding off the Grangers for 69-62 victory in the Region 5-AAAA third-place game at Sandy Creek.
Troup and LaGrange will both be on the road on Saturday for the opening round of the state tournament.
After trailing by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, the Grangers fought back and got within one a few times, but it was the Tigers making the plays they needed to down the stretch to preserve the victory.
A key reason Troup won was its ability to knock down free throws, combined with LaGrange’s inability to make those shots.
While Troup was 19-of-22 from the free-throw line, LaGrange only made 11-of-23 attempts from the line.
“I think the boys fought hard,” said Troup head coach Blake Craft. “We had to fight through adversity, but we’ve been fighting through adversity all year. We’ve had these type of games all year long.”
Troup got a lift from senior post player Isaiah Cox, who scored 16 points, including six critical points in the fourth quarter.
Gabe Cofield added 12 points for the Tigers, Jaquavious Whitfield and K.J. Tucker had 10 points apiece, and Camren O’Neal scored eight points.
For LaGrange, Javon Brown led the way with 15 points, Nafis Carston scored 13 points, and Kobe Jones added nine points.
The Tigers started quickly and had a 17-9 lead after the first quarter, and they were ahead 34-23 at the half.
After falling behind by 13 points moments into the third quarter, the Grangers went on a 16-4 run that was capped by a Burks 3-pointer that cut the Tigers’ lead to 38-37.
It was a two-point game when Cofield knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Tigers back up by five, and they led 49-44 heading to the fourth quarter.
The Grangers continued to hang around in the fourth quarter, and they got within one point on a Brown basket with 2:20 to play.
After the Tigers went ahead by five, another Brown bucket made it a 64-61 game with 49 seconds to play.
Gabe Stepp scored on a fast-break layup to give the Tigers a 66-61 lead with 25 seconds left, and they led by at least five points the rest of the way.
“Obviously the first half didn’t go great for us,” said Mark Veal, LaGrange’s head coach. “The second half, I’m proud of the kids’ effort. I think we missed 12 free throws, and they may have missed three. That was the difference.”