Red-hot Tigers surge to home win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Tigers hadn’t played in more than a week, but there were no signs of rust during Tuesday’s showdown with visiting Handley.
Troup surged to a 20-8 lead after the first quarter, and led by 25 points at the half on the way to a 54-30 victory.
It was the fourth consecutive win for Troup (4-2), which hadn’t played since Dec. 12 when it beat Harris County 61-38.
“I thought Harris County was our best game, but that might have been our best half,” said Troup head coach Blake Craft.
Handley, which came into the game with a 7-2 record, only made three shots from the field in the first half, while Troup was scoring at will, with many of its points coming off of turnovers forced by a suffocating defense.
“I feel like when we come out and play like we played, we’re a great team,” said senior guard Tre Scott, who scored eight points. “And I feel like when we’re playing our best on defense, it helps the offense.”
Troup, after dropping its first two games, got things rolling with a 49-47 road win over Lanett, and it has followed that up with victories over LaGrange, Harris County and Handley.
The Tigers are led by a group of seniors, including Scott, who were freshmen when Craft took over as head coach for the 2017-2018 season.
“These seniors, they were my first freshman class,” Craft said. “I told them when they get to be seniors, we’re going to be special. Just stay together, stay together. We hope everything keeps working out.”
Scott, who unfortunately had to leave Tuesday’s game with cramping issues in the second half, said he stresses to his teammates the importance of sprinting to the finish line.
“I always tell them, we can’t let up,” Scott said. “You get tired, and we have to keep pushing, and we can’t slow down.”
There was no let-up in the first half of Tuesday’s game.
The Tigers were in control from the get-go, and Jaylen Young put the finishing touches on a dominant first quarter when he made a lay-up after coming up with a steal, extending the lead to 20-8.
The story was much the same in the second quarter, and when Mon Woodard made a 3-pointer, the Tigers led 33-12 with 2:20 left in the first half.
By the time the first half came to a close, Troup had a commanding 37-12 lead, and the outcome had seemingly been secured.
Handley played Troup on even terms in the second half, but the lead was at least 20 points until the game’s final moments.
Troup was short-handed with some players missing because of quarantined procedures, and the players who were available made their presence felt.
“We had eight, nine solid guys, and they got after it,” Craft said.
Senior K.J. Tucker led a balanced Troup scoring effort with 15 points, while senior Zy Varner contributed 13 points, with nine of those points coming in the third quarter.
Stepp, who is also a senior, added eight points, and Nick Philpot scored seven points.