On the surface, the game looks like a bit of a mismatch.
The Lady Grangers have lost two straight games, but they still sport a sterling 12-3 record, and they’re 2-2 in Region 4-AAAA.
Troup, on the other hand, is still looking for its first win of any kind with an 0-10 record, including an 0-5 mark in region play.
Jones has been around this rivalry too long to expect anything other than a competitive and hard-fought game, though.
“They’ll play us well, because Troup always does,” Jones said. “It’s always a hard game.”
The last time the two teams played, it was the semifinals of the Region 6-AAA tournament, and Troup won 36-35 on the way to a region championship.
Troup’s fortunes have reversed this season, though.
Last year’s team relied heavily on point guard Tanisha Jackson and post player Shamiya Brooks, but those two players are now playing college basketball.
Without those two stars, the Lady Tigers have struggled mightily, particularly on the offensive end where they’re only scoring 26 points per game.
The Lady Tigers did reach their high point total of the season on Saturday in a 48-39 loss to Columbus, and head coach Carla Thornton said after that game some of the players are starting to grow more comfortable in their roles.
“We’re starting to have people step up in places they haven’t stepped up before,” Thornton said. “We’re starting to see some girls who are going to be able to help us more and more.”
One of the players who has stepped up her play is sophomore point guard Deaushanique “Deedee” Sanders, who had 14 points in the Columbus game.
Senior Sydni Jackson, who scored all 10 of her points in the fourth period in Saturday’s game, has provided a nice presence in the paint, and fellow senior Jessica Gilbert scored 12 points in Tuesday’s loss to Fayette County.
LaGrange, meanwhile, is a veteran team with a bunch of players who have seen it all on the varsity level.
The team’s big three are senior guards Brittany Tatum and Steara Mitchell, and senior post player KaBrenna Smith, who have all been either starting or playing a lot since their freshman seasons when LaGrange made it to the state semifinals.
Senior Breanna Grant has also been a big part of the team for four seasons.
Those players helped LaGrange open with 10 straight wins before losing to Valley in the finals of a tournament in Auburn.
The Lady Grangers then won their first two region games before running into trouble, first with a 55-45 loss to Fayette County, and then with a 48-41 loss to Sandy Creek.
“We were right there with them late in the games,” Jones said of those two losses. “We just couldn’t finish. There are some things defensively we’ve got to work on. And we have to get in shape. They were in a little bit better basketball shape than us.”
Jones said the team gave up too many easy baskets in the two losses.
“We weren’t getting back very well against Sandy Creek and Fayette County,” Jones said. “We just have to learn and get better. It’s better now than in the region tournament.”
As for today’s games, Jones expects Troup to focus a lot of its attention on slowing down the dynamic guard tandem of Tatum and Mitchell.
“I’m sure they’ll come out with some schemes to shut down Brittany and Steara,” Jones said. “That’s what Sandy Creek did.”