The Troup Tigers clawed their way back.
After falling behind by 25 points in the third quarter against Harris County Tuesday night, the Tigers kept fighting, and when some shots started to fall, they began inching their way back into the game.
The Tigers got as close as four points on a Jamal Wilkerson 3-pointer with eight seconds left, but they ran out of time, and Harris County escaped with a 79-73 victory.
It was the debut for Paul Brewer as Troup’s head coach, who has taken over for Thermond Billingslea, who stepped down after 12 seasons.
Although Troup lost the game, Brewer was happy to see the fight the team showed in a game that had the earmarks of a blowout victory for Harris County.
“Before the game, that’s what we talked about, we’re going to learn a little something about them,” Brewer said. “We told them the scoreboard was going to be over-rated tonight. We wanted to see how they’d respond in a game, and they responded.”
The Tigers got off to a decent start, and they were down 17-14 after the first quarter.
In the second period, though, Harris County put 26 points on the board, and it had a 43-25 lead at the half.
Harris County continued to pad its lead early in the third quarter before Troup rallied.
With 18 seconds left in the third quarter, Wilkerson drained a 3-pointer, cutting Harris County’s lead to 62-45, which was the score at the half.
In the fourth period, led by the hot-shooting Wilkerson, who had a game-high 29 points, Troup continued to fight its way back into the game.
With 1:35 remaining, Wilkerson knocked down a 3-pointer, and Harris County’s lead was down to 73-65.
With 23 seconds left, Wilkerson hit another 3-pointer, and Troup was down 75-70.
After Harris County’s Deion Whitaker made a pair of free throws to give Harris County a seven-point lead, Wilkerson connected on another 3-pointer, and it was a 77-73 game.
There were only eight seconds left, though, and Harris County was able to hit some free throws to wrap things up.
Wilkerson, a junior, had a monster night for the Tigers.
He only had three points in the first half, but he caught fire in the second half and scored 26 points to finish with 29.
Wilkerson made seven 3-pointers, and five of them came in the fourth quarter.
“He’s going to have to be our perimeter guy,” Brewer said of Wilkerson. “We’ve got a lot of inexperienced kids out there that truthfully don’t know what’s a good shot, what’s a bad shot. So that’s what we talked about tonight. You’ve got to know your game.”
Quaydo Florence and Daryl Dunlap added 11 points apiece for Troup.