All-state honors for Troup players
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Lady Tigers, coming off the most successful season in the history of the program, are well-represented on the Sandy’s Spiel all-state team that was released last week.
Three members of a Troup team that played for a state championship last season were recognized by Kyle Sandy, who extensively covers prep basketball in Georgia.
Troup went 27-2, and it lost to Americus-Sumter 66-52 in the Class AAAA state-championship game after winning four state-tournament games.
Troup’s Alexcia Murphy was selected as the freshman of the year after an outstanding debut season.
Murphy averaged more than 10 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game this season, and she came up huge during the state tournament.
Murphy’s most memorable moment came in the second round of the state tournament when she made the game-winning shot in a 46-45 win over Cross Creek.
Murphy caught a pass from Aniya Palmer, and then banked in a shot as time expired to keep Troup’s season alive.
“To put the game in a freshman’s hands, that shows how much we trust each other,” said Troup head coach Carla Thornton.
In the following game, Murphy scored 25 points in a 58-48 victory over McDonough to send Troup to the state semifinals.
Murphy then scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Troup beat Carver 56-47 to reach the state-championship game.
Also making the all-state team as a second-team selection is Aniya Palmer, who had an outstanding sophomore season and was a driving force behind the team’s championship run.
It was Palmer who engineered the game-winning play against Cross Creek.
With six seconds left, Palmer soared into the air and grabbed a rebound of a missed free throw, and she sprinted down the floor and made a no-look pass to Murphy, who made the clutch shot.
Palmer, who averaged more than 12 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game, showed how effective an all-around player she is during the semifinals against Carver.
Palmer did it offensively with 13 points, and she also had 15 rebounds and a remarkable nine blocked shots, leaving her just short of a triple-double.
Troup’s third and final all-state player is senior Amber Gilbert, who was an honorable-mention selection.
One of Gilbert’s most memorable moments this season came in one of Troup’s two losses.
In the Region 5-AAAA championship game against Sandy Creek, Gilbert went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the third quarter.
Gilbert returned in the fourth quarter, though, and made four 3-pointers in less than three minutes to give her team a chance, but Sandy Creek won 56-49.
Gilbert, a four-year starter led the team with 18 points during the memorable win over Cross Creek when she made five 3-pointers.
Gilbert had 14 points against McDonough, and she had eight points and 11 rebounds against Carver.
FINAL RANKING: After finishing second in the state tournament, the Troup Lady Tigers (27-2) were second in the final Maxpreps.com Class AAAA poll.
Americus-Sumter (29-2), which beat Troup to win the state championship, earned the number one ranking.
Carver-Columbus (25-5), which won the 2018 state championship and lost to Troup in the semifinals, is ranked third in the final poll, and Luella (25-6) and Woodward Academy (27-4) are fourth and fifth, respectively.
LOOK AHEAD: Troup should be one of the favorites to win it all going into the 2020-2021 season.
Troup is losing four seniors, but of those players, only Amber Gilbert saw significant playing time during the season.
Everyone else, including all-state players Alexcia Murphy and Aniya Palmer, will return next season.