Don’t call it an upset: Troup stuns Starr’s Mill to book a spot in the playoffs for first time since 2020

Published 11:27 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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Stunner at Troup High. The seventh-seeded Troup boys basketball team upset the no. 2 seed Starr’s Mill 74-68 on Wednesday night to book a spot in the state tournament for the first time since 2020 and a spot in the region semis.

“We took some bumps and bruises this year and we lost eight games by five or less, but the guys still believed and listened and now look at the result,” first-year head coach Vacher Hammett said. “The locker room was chaotic and wild, but they deserved it.”

This outcome looked in doubt early as Troup’s offense struggled to get going in the first quarter which led to an 18-8 deficit after one.

The Tigers turned it around in the second with strong defense and a star-making turn from sophomore Jalen Brown, who scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the second.

Brown along with fellow sophomore Dee Moreland and junior DeJaylen Campbell were all superb leading the team throughout the season and down the stretch of this all-important clash.

“It feels good to see them go out there and do that,” Hammett said. “The future is bright because everybody is coming back next year and there is a good nucleus.”

It was anybody’s game coming out of halftime as Troup clung on to a 27-25 lead. 

The third quarter was all Troup as the Tigers outscored the Panthers by 13 to take a 50-35 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

After a quiet first half, Campbell made winning play after winning play in the second half. It started in the third when he connected on two 3-pointers and scored eight points total after zero points in the first half. He closed out the game with another eight in the fourth, including a dagger 3-pointer from the corner.

Starr’s Mill clawed and fought down the stretch, cutting the Troup lead to as few as seven points, but Troup always found a way to make an important play to keep the Panthers at bay.

As the final buzzer rang, the Panthers could do nothing but stand in shock as the Tigers celebrated their well-earned victory with an explosion of built-up emotions.

“I’m so happy for all these guys because it’s the first time they will play a state playoff game,” Hammett said. “I’m also excited because it will be my first time coaching in a public school state playoff game.”

Moreland had a steady hand on offense all game, tallying 19 points.

Troup will play Riverdale in the region semifinals at LaGrange High at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. A win will send the Tigers to the region championship and clinch a home playoff game.

“Well we beat the two seed, so we are the two seed now,” Hammett said with a hearty laugh.