Denham Springs coach Kevin Caballero said he expects more from his team.
The Yellow Jackets did record their 15th win of the season Tuesday with a 64-56 victory at Tara, but Denham Springs was ordinary at times after a fast start and early 15-point lead.
“I just thought we came out tonight with a lack of focus,” Caballero said. “We’ve got five seniors on our team and we can put it on them and put it on me. We weren’t ready to play.”
Denham (15-4) was coming off a 69-39 loss to Natchitoches Central, while Tara (3-13) won the East Baton Rouge Parish consolation title.
Tara outscored Denham 22-20 in the fourth quarter and came to within six points, 62-56, on a driving basket by Orlando Burks Jr. with 30 seconds remaining. Denham’s Ray Whitley and Micah Banks each hit free throws for the final margin.
Denham led 56-41 with 3:37 remaining on two free throws by 6-foot-5 junior Xavier Miles, who had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Tara made a 15-8 run from there with Burks contributing 10 of his 12 points. His 3-pointer with 45.7 seconds remaining cut the Denham Springs lead to seven, 61-54.
“Tara played lights-out,” Caballero said. “I thought defensively, we were poor tonight. Our guys did enough to win, but tonight I feel like we didn’t play together as a team.”
Tara assistant coach Joseph Kirk said he liked that his young Trojans — who started one freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors — mounted a big rally, but they need to improve their rebounding and cut down on turnovers.
“We put ourselves in a hole early,” he said. “I like how they forgot about the score and made it a game. We kept fighting against a good Denham team.”
Jay Henderson, a 6-2 senior, scored 13 of his game-high 19 points for Denham Springs in the first half. He hit four 3-pointers.
Banks had 11 of his 13 points in the second half and hit two 3-pointers. Senior Dorset Washington added eight points.
Tiyon Daniels hit three 3-pointers, finishing with nine points for Tara. Nathan Brown added eight points and Brandon Jordan seven.
“Jay Henderson got us off to good start with six points in the first quarter,” Caballero said. “Xavier Miles was a force inside for us and played well.”
Tara pulled within 25-21 after beating the press and scoring on a layup by Jordan with 28 seconds remaining in the first half. Denham Springs worked the ball for the last shot, and Henderson hit a 3-pointer for a 28-21 advantage at the break.
Banks hit two 3-pointers early in the third quarter to push the lead to 34-21. The Yellow Jackets made 15 of 26 free throws in the contest.