Tigers win a thriller
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
KJ Tucker’s late-game heroics helped lift the Troup Tigers to a thrilling home win over the visiting LaGrange Grangers on Friday night.
Tucker hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, and the Tigers controlled the four-minute extra period to earn a 59-54 win in a Region 2-AAAA showdown.
It was a key win for the Tigers (8-8 overall) who improved to 3-3 in region play, while the Grangers (10-7) fell to 3-2 in the region and saw their four-game winning streak come to a close.
The Tigers were down by three points with less than five seconds to play when Tucker rebounded a missed free throw, and he raced down the court and hit an off-balance shot from a few feet outside the 3-point line to tie it at 52-52 and force overtime.
“I looked at it, and it felt good,” Tucker said. “It went in, and I saw my team celebrating, and it felt great.”
Tucker hit another 3-pointer with 2:37 left in overtime to put the Tigers on top 55-54, and they led the rest of the way.
Tucker finished with 19 points, and he had 13 points during the fourth quarter and overtime.
“He’s one of the most unselfish players on our team,” Troup head coach Blake Craft. “He does everything right. He makes plays. He makes coaches look good.”
Fellow senior Tre Scott added 13 points for the Tigers, and he sealed the victory with a layup with seconds left in overtime that pushed the lead to five.
Freshman Jaylen Young added 10 for the Tigers.
For LaGrange, Javon Brown had a big night with 25 points, and point guard Kobe Jones added 11 points.
The game was tied 21-21 at the half, and the outscored the Tigers 20-14 in the third quarter to build a 41-35 lead.
When Taylor Stephens hit a 3-pointer moments into the fourth quarter, the Grangers had a 43-35 lead, but the Tigers answered with a 9-0 run capped by a Young basket to go on top 44-43 with 5:31 to play.
It was tied at 49-49 when Jones hit a jumper with 1:13 to play, giving the Grangers a two-point lead
Jones made a free throw with 20 seconds left to extend the lead to three, and the Tigers missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer on their own end. A missed free throw gave the Tigers life, and Tucker’s clutch 3-pointer sent it to overtime.
Tucker led the fourth-quarter comeback with 10 points, including a four-point play that jump-started the 9-0 run.
“When I hit that first one, I thought I’m feeling it,” Tucker said.
Garrett Jacobsen scored early in overtime to give the Grangers the lead, and Tucker responded with his 3-pointer to put the Tigers back on top.
The Grangers were down by three when they missed a 3-pointer in the closing moments, and the Tigers stayed aggressive, with Scott driving to the basket for the game-clinching layup.