A loss is a loss but it seems more difficult to accept one that comes in the last second.
Troup’s bid for a State title came to an end when Edgewood scored on a go-ahead lay-up as time ran out in the Region II semifinal game with Edgewood at Rockwall-Heath High School Gymnasium Friday, March 2. The Bulldogs pulled out a 58-56 win to end the basketball season for the Tigers.
“This team is as good as any 3-A team in the state of Texas,” said head coach Darin Harley. “They proved that going “toe to toe” with Edgewood (lost in final second) and Mt. Vernon (lost in OT). We were a blink within going all the way. However, this will not diminish what this team has accomplished.”
Troup concluded the 2017-2018 season with a 32-5 record. Edgewood, 34-2, played Mt. Vernon in the regional finals.
Despite several of the Tigers playing with injuries, Troup was able to build a good lead by halftime. The Bulldogs rallied in the second half and put themselves in position for the win in the final seconds. Trey Erwin worked his way through the Troup defense for the final shot that proved to be the winning basket.
“This Troup Tiger team is the best team I have ever coached and it is not because of their stellar record,” Harley added. “The reason is because of the grit and determination they displayed throughout the past two seasons. It is absolutely astonishing how far this group has progressed. The more I demanded of them, the more they responded.”
Unfortunately, Harley will lose half a dozen seniors who contributed to the team’s success, including Jared Jackson, Shane Thomas, Cobie Hamilton, Logan Stone, Jones Ard and Jim Christopher. Harlin said the team’s commitment included playing in summer leagues, staying after practice to get in more shooting and to work on their grades. He credits the parents for trusting him to mold the players to reach above and beyond what they or anyone else believed they could accomplish.
“I have never been more proud of a resilient, tough group of young men,” Harlin said. “They have set the bar for the groups coming up. My hope is they use this experience to reach above and beyond to accomplish their goals in life.”
Jackson dumped in a trio of three-pointers and finished as the team’s leading scorer with 15 points, and Shane Thomas scored 13 points for the Tigers. Grayson Driggs hit the mark from the three-point arc four times for 12 points and Weslee Ross hit a trio of three-point buckets and finished with 11 points. Jones Ard scored five points, including a three-pointer.
Erwin paced the Bulldogs with 23 points, including three from three-point range. Sean Joyce added 18, Brayden Allen scored 16 and Nobel Smith scored one point.
Troup advanced to the regional semifinals with a 40-33 victory over Mt. Pleasant Chapel Hill in the regional quarterfinals earlier last week.
The Tigers had a strong first quarter and led 10-5, but the Red Devils rallied to cut the Troup lead to 19-15 at halftime. Mount Pleasant took the lead in the third quarter with an 11-4 run to take a 26-23 edge into the final quarter. The Troup offense sparked a 17-7 rally in the final frame to pull away for the 40-33 victory.
Thomas led the Tigers with 15 points, Weslee Ross scored nine, Jackson contributed eight, Driggs posted six and Ard scored two points. Bryant Roberts paced Mount Pleasant with 15 points, Zachary Shipp added 11, Cole Posey scored five and Baylee Bynum finished with two points.
Mount Pleasant finished the season at 24-10.
The Tigers also included juniors Kris Johnson, Quincy Kincade (Ross is also a junior and Driggs is a sophomore). Tim Vandegriff is the assistant coach and the managers included Bracey Cover and Corbin Whitsell.