LAGRANGE – They’re learning how to win.
The Troup Lady Tigers (7-11 overall) are 1-5 in their Region 5-AAAA games, but they’re not getting blown out.
They’ve been competitive in most of their region games, but with the exception of a home victory over Fayette County, they haven’t been able to get over the hump.
Two of the Lady Tigers’ region losses, to Woodward Academy and Sandy Creek, were by a combined seven points, and if they could have closed those games out, they’d have a .500 record in region play.
“We kind of felt like we compete with everyone,” Troup head coach Carla Thornton said. “We just have to find ways to win these games. We still haven’t found that winner’s mindset. you have to be used to winning and being successful.”
In their latest region game, a 54-37 road loss to Woodward Academy on Tuesday, the Lady Tigers were fighting from behind from the get-go after scoring four points in the first period.
“We got real good looks,” Thornton said. “Our game plan was to attack their bigs and get them in foul trouble. And we did that. But the ball just wasn’t falling.”
The Lady Tigers’ attacking mentality allowed them to go to the free-throw line 29 times, and they made 20 of those attempts.
Kwyneshia Spence led Troup with 12 points, and she was 10-of-14 from the line, and Shaqoya Gilbert scored 11 points.
Troup got within 10 points heading to the fourth quarter before Woodward Academy pulled away late.
“Honestly, the score doesn’t indicate what type of game it actually was,” Thornton said. “We would close the gap, and they’d jump back out.”
Troup was aided by the return of junior Keya Sands, who tore her ACL last season and was making her debut against Woodward Academy.
Sands saw significant playing time, and while she didn’t score, Thornton said having her back is big for the team and that she’ll end up being a major contributor.
“She just got released (medically),” Thornton said. “I was surprised at how good of shape she was in. She’s definitely an offensive weapon. She can score around the rim.”
Troup has four region games remaining, beginning with Friday’s home game against Whitewater.
Troup then hosts Sandy Creek on Monday before finishing the regular-season with games at Fayette County Tuesday and Carrollton on Feb. 5.
Between the girl’ and boys’ games on Friday, the seniors for the two teams will be honored.
There is only one senior on Lady Tigers’ roster, and that is Gabby Lockhart, who has been a critical member of the team the past few seasons.
“I love her hustle,” Thornton said.
Once the regular season ends, Troup will turn its attention to the region tournament.
The Lady Tigers will need to win one game in the region tournament to advance to state, and that’s a realistic goal.
Carrollton is far and away the top team in the region, but there isn’t a whole lot separating the other five teams.
“Woodward Academy, they’re the number two team, and we lost to them by three (at home), and we played at their place, and they shot lights out,” Thornton said. “We can play with anybody.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports