Balanced attack keys Tara’s 65-59 victory

Tara had its usual strong guard play and some inside muscle from Lionel Russel to carve out a 65-59 win over St. Michael the Archangel on Tuesday night at Tara.

Tara (16-7, 4-1 in District 6-4A) got 18 points from Shaquille Reed, 17 from Ty Davis and 13 from Josh Plain to go with Russel’s 12 in a balanced attack that pleased coach Larry Grantham.

“Overall, I thought we played a pretty good game,” said Grantham, who was fighting a stomach virus. “They got some 3s that hurt us, and we still couldn’t hit our free throws, but we had a few steals that kept them at bay.

“I looked up once, and we were up about 18, and then we were up by six. But I’d sure rather be up by six than down by six.”

If the Trojans had any hangover from a tough two-point loss at Istrouma on Friday, they didn’t show it. They spotted the Warriors a 4-0 lead, then stormed back with a 14-2 run on their way to a 29-19 halftime lead.

Ty Davis had the hot hand for Tara in the first half, hitting three 3-pointers in his 12-point performance.

Five other Trojans also scored. Lionel Russel had six points, with four of them on follow shots.

Paul Ragusa was the spark for the Warriors, tallying 10 points, mostly on drives from the baseline or the left wing.

St. Michael (13-10, 3-2) came back with a different approach in the second half, switching from a matchup zone to a man-to-man defense, but they turned the ball over on their first three possessions and Tara quickly increased its lead to 14.

The Warriors settled down and played on even terms the rest of the quarter to cut the lead to 47-38 after three quarters. Jordan Long connected on two 3-pointers to pace their 19-point third quarter.

“I think maybe we should have come out man-to-man earlier,” St. Michael coach Drew Hart. “I think I made a mistake there. We were trying to find their shooters, but we did a poor job of it.

“Plus we were real cold early, and we just couldn’t put anything in.”

Hart’s team was missing three starters out with injuries, but they managed one last run in the last four minutes.

Down 60-46, the Warriors went on a 10-2 run to pull within six, but a steal and basket by Plain on a great assist by Reed, and two Plain free throws helped the Trojans pull away for good.

“I had three seniors go down, two with ankles and one with a kneecap,” Hart said. “We’re starting three sophomores now, but I’m pleased with the way we played. We fought hard.

“We played really good at Plaquemine last week. Maybe we wasted a few shots there we needed tonight,” he said.

Ragusa finished with 22 points for the Warriors.

Long had 12 points on four 3-pointers, and Jacob Evans came alive in the second half to score eight.