State time for local teams
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The matchups are set.
The GHSA state basketball tournament will get started this weekend, and teams from Callaway, LaGrange and Troup are hoping to keep their seasons alive with first-round victories.
While the Callaway Cavaliers and Troup Tigers will be at home, the Callaway Lady Cavaliers, LaGrange Grangers and Troup Tigers will be on the road.
Each of those teams finished fourth or higher in their respective region tournaments to qualify for state.
The Troup girls’ team is hosting a state game for the second consecutive season after finishing second in the Region 5-AAAA tournament.
Troup (23-1) was hoping to head to state with an unbeaten record and a region championship in hand, but that didn’t happen.
Sandy Creek, playing on its home floor, beat Troup 56-49 on Saturday to win the region title.
While it was a disappointing night, the good news for the Lady Tigers is that they’ve got more basketball to play, beginning with Friday’s game against Chestatee at 6 p.m.
A year ago Troup also lost to Sandy Creek in the region-championship game, and it fell to Oconee County in a first-round game at state.
Troup is hoping to avoid a similar fate this season, so head coach Carla Thornton has encouraged her players to move on from the Sandy Creek loss.
“We can’t let them beat us twice,” Thornton said.
If Troup beats Chestatee, the number three team from Region 7-AAAA, it will play either Hardaway or Cross Creek in the second round.
Troup’s boys’ team, meanwhile, will be on the road after finishing third in Region 5-AAAA.
Blessed Trinity, the number two team from Region 7-AAAA, will host Troup on Friday at 7 p.m.
The winner of that game will play Thomson or Americus-Sumter in the second round.
Troup has won five of its past seven games, including Saturday’s 69-62 win over LaGrange in the region’s third-place game.
“It’s one at a time, and see what happens,” said Blake Craft, Troup’s head coach. “We’re deep enough, we’re talented enough to make a little noise, if we’re locked in.”
LaGrange’s boys’ team, which finished fourth in Region 5-AAAA with Saturday’s loss to Troup, will be on the road against Region 7-AAAA champion Denmark on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Denmark won the region title with a 69-55 win over Blessed Trinity last weekend.
The winner of Saturday’s game will play Burke County or Dougherty in the second round.
Callaway’s girls’ team, which finished fourth in Region 5-AA, will visit Region 7-AA champion Rockmart on Friday at 6 p.m.
Rockmart finished second in the regular-season standings before knocking off top-seeded Chattooga in the region championship game.
The winner of Friday’s games will face Thomasville or East Laurens in the second round.
Callaway’s boys’ team finished second in Region 5-AA to earn a home game, and it will host Model on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Model finished third in Region 7-AA to earn its state invitation.
If Callaway beats Model, it will play Berrien or Washington County in the second round.
Callaway girls at Rockmart, 6 p.m.
Chestatee girls at Troup, 6 p.m.
Troup boys at Blessed Trinity, 7 p.m.
Model boys at Callaway, 4 p.m.
LaGrange at Denmark, 6 p.m.