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Lady Tigers open season

By Kevin Eckleberry

LaGrange Daily News

The Troup Lady Tigers are jumping into a new season against some high-quality competition.

Troup, which has lofty expectations after reaching the Class AAAA state-championship game last season, is playing two of the state’s top teams in the Parkview Tip-Off Classic.

Troup, the top-ranked team in Class AAAA, opened the season with a 49-43 loss to Langston Hughes, which is ranked fourth in Class AAAA.

Troup returns to Parkview on Tuesday at 4 p.m. to play Collins Hill, which is ranked second in Class AAAAAAA, and is coming off a 52-51 win over McEachern, the top-ranked team in the state’s highest classification.

Troup head coach Carla Thornton could have scheduled some cupcakes to start the season, but she wanted to put her players to the test right out of the gate.

“That was never the intention (to schedule easy wins),” said Thornton, whose team didn’t lost a regular-season game last season. “The intention was to get better and get to the end again.”

There’s plenty of reason to expect Troup to make another championship run.

While leading scorer Amber Gilbert graduated, every other key player from last season’s team returns, and some talented newcomers are looking to make a contribution.

One of those returning players, junior Aniya Palmer, led Troup with 12 point in Monday’s game, and she also had seven rebounds.

Monyia Murphy and Jada Green added eight points apiece, and Alexcia Murphy scored seven points, while Darnesheyuna McCullough had four points.

One of the newcomers, freshman Angie Dowdell, got her feet wet and scored two points in her varsity debut.

“She gave us some good minutes,” Thornton said. “She’s going from middle school to playing a high-level game like this for your first varsity game. So it was a learning curve, and she had a couple of turnovers early in the game. Once she settled down she was fine. She’ll be a natural for us.”

Thornton believes playing top-notch teams will be valuable for all the players on a team with championship aspirations.

“Playing against some better competition can push us to a different level. That’s the main thing,” Thornton said. “We saw that today. We lost, but we saw that we can play with those teams. Even though we didn’t play our best, it was good to see a team that can run with us early in the season.”

With Monyia Murphy scoring six first-quarter points, Troup grabbed a 10-7 lead, but Langston Hughes rallied to take a 25-20 lead at the half.

After falling behind 38-29 through three quarters, Troup hung tough and got within five in the fourth quarter, but Langston Hughes held on for the six-point win.

Alexcia Murphy, who was one of Troup’s top players as a freshman last season, scored all seven of her points in the second half to help Troup stay in it, and she also had 12 rebounds.

“We had some communication errors on offense and defense, things we normally do well, but they competed, and I’m happy with that,” Thornton said.

While it’s mostly the same team from last season, there will be some changes, and Thornton is using these early-season games to figure out what the best role is for each player.

“You try different lineups, different rotations,” Thornton said. “All that stuff makes a different, having people on the floor that play well together.”

BOYS BASKETBALL: The Troup Tigers opened a new season with a 65-48 loss to Woodland on Friday in the Sweet South Shootout at Cedar Shoals High in Athens.

Troup was supposed to play a second game in the event on Saturday, but the game was canceled.

In Friday’s game, it was tied 10-10 after the first quarter, and Woodland led 29-21 at the half, and 47-32 through three quarters.

Jaylen Young led Troup with 11 points, while KJ Tucker and Ricco Person added seven and six points, respectively.

Troup will make its home debut next Tuesday when it hosts Lanett.