LAGRANGE – It was a winning summer for the Troup Lady Tigers.
Troup’s basketball team played 10 games this summer, and it won all but one of them.
Troup, under the direction of head coach Carla Thornton, wrapped up its summer schedule last week as it prepares for the 2016-2017 season that gets under way in November.
In addition to the 10 games, the Lady Tigers also got together in the school gym for daily workouts, and they attended a team camp at Jacksonville State as well.
“They’ve been really dedicated,” Thornton said. “That’s something I haven’t had the past couple of years. One, or two, or three people would show up. This year, it’s been 12 strong every workout. They’re getting up and down the court. I think the light has finally clicked on for them.”
When the Lady Tigers took on another opponent this summer, they excelled.
Troup’s only loss of the summer came against Newnan, and that was on a last-second shot.
“We should have won that game,” Thornton said.
The summer success comes on the heels of a 2015-2016 season that ended with a loss in the state tournament, and Thornton believes the players are realizing there’s a lot they can accomplish.
“They know they’re capable of playing with anyone, or even beating anyone,” Thornton said.
Thornton said one of the most positive aspects of the summer has been the performance of the post players.
The inside game was a weak spot for Troup last season.
“We didn’t have a post presence (last season),” Thornton said. “But we have that now. Those girls have worked extremely hard. We scored a lot of points in the paint. That surprised a lot of people, because they don’t expect that from us. That’s going to open up the floor a whole lot more.”
While the Lady Tigers finished with a losing record last season, they still made major strides.
Before last season, the Lady Tigers hadn’t made it to the state tournament since the 2011-2012 season when they reached the state quarterfinals.
Last season, Troup finished fourth in the Region 5-AAAA tournament to make it to state, and it hung tough with North Oconee in the first round before losing 64-50.
Nearly all of the players from that team are returning, and Thornton has been gratified to see the way they’ve developed on the court and off it.
“They’ve grown not only as players, but as people,” Thornton said. “They’re becoming great people, and that’s what I love is to teach my girls how to become young ladies.”
Thornton maintains a close relationship with the players, and that goes beyond the gym.
“They’ve been coming to my house spending the night over the summer,” she said. “There’s so much going on in LaGrange. Anytime they want to come, I love it.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports