Opening a three-game workweek to close out the regular season, the Central High School girls' basketball team took one on the chin Tuesday night in a region setback to Troup.
A myriad of turnovers in the second quarter put the Lady Lions in a hole they couldn't climb out of en route to the 56-40 league loss for Senior Night, dropping them to 14-8 overall on the year and 6-4 in 5-AAAA play.
Those self-inflicted wounds proved to be Central's undoing, where the turnover bug infested Cowart Court, resulting in a 24-point second quarter for Troup (10-8, 5-5).
The Lady Tigers were able to capitalize and take a commanding 37-19 advantage into the break after only leading 13-10 through one quarter of play.
After Lady Lion guard Nyah Houston knocked down a trey to open the second quarter and pull the host squad even at 13-all, the Lady Tigers went on an 18-2 run in a frustrating turn of events for Central head coach Josh Smith.
"We've got to protect the ball better. They'll press for 32 minutes and we didn't handle it as well in the first half as we should have, but I'll take the blame for that," Smith said. "I guess we need to work on that more in practice. But we'll get better from this. We obviously don't want to lose, but going up against that will help us and we'll be better because of it."
Troup built as much as a 22-point lead in the second half, but the Lady Lions made a late push in the fourth quarter, opening the period on a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 13 points, but they would get no closer the rest of the way as a trio of open looks from beyond the arc wouldn't fall to make it a 10-point game.
Sophomore guard Janae Jackson led the Lady Lions offensively with nine points, followed by Houston with eight and Haley Fehring with seven. Jedda Madden paced Troup with 22 points, while Amber Gilbert added 15.
Central has a make-up date at LaGrange today in a 6 p.m. tip and then closes out the regular season back at home against Sandy Creek on Friday night leading up to the Region 5-AAAA Tournament.
There is still plenty that could transpire over the next few days in regard to tournament seeding and Smith is hopeful of bouncing back and locking up a No. 3 seed.
"If we win one game out of the last two, we'll probably get the third seed. If we lose them both, we're probably looking at the four. Either way, we've still set ourselves up for a chance to make the state playoffs, which has been our goal all along," Smith said.
With their goals still in sight and attainable, it comes down to finishing the job, and Smith knows this group will leave it all out on the court every time.
"There's no quit in this team. They're going to give everything they've got all the way to the buzzer," Smith said. "That's what we're going to try to instill for the rest of the season. We've come a long way. We've set ourselves up in a much better position than last year. And that's the goal. Progress each year."