Tara scored the game’s first eight points and established a commanding 18-point halftime advantage over Woodlawn before retaking the floor at Southern’s F.G. Clark Activity Center to complete darkness.
While both teams in Friday’s first-round matchup of the EBR/Bob Pettit/Coca-Cola waited anxiously for the restoration of power to the arena it was determined after a 90-minute stoppage of play the tournament would resume at cozy Seymour Gymnasium.
“This is something new to me,” Tara coach Marqus Mitchell said. “I was trying to get them to stay loose. We also gave out little notes they kept reading with their little lights. Every chance they could, they kept going over the game plan and hopefully that kept them mentally focused.”
Sixth-seeded Tara never let up, regaining its red-hot shooting and aggressive defense to pull away from No. 11 Woodlawn, 52-32.
Tara (8-8) advanced to the quarterfinals against No. 3 Belaire (12-5) at 3 p.m. and will play in its gym with the tournament moving to Tara’s campus for at least Saturday’s action.
In the first day’s best game, No. 6 Southern Lab defeated No. 10 Glen Oaks, 41-40, with No. 2 Madison Prep making quick work of No. 15 Lee Magnet 97-32.
The Chargers (14-1), playing without seven players because of a rules violation, built a 24-0 first-quarter lead and held a 63-9 advantage at halftime.
Jharon Whitfield topped MPA with 30 points with Ernie Blanson Jr. leading Lee (2-9) with 12.
TARA 52, WOODLAWN 32: Center Youry White and guard Keidrick Stewart combined for four points each to jumpstart Tara’s early efforts that reached a 12-3 lead after the first quarter.
The Trojans parlayed a couple of turnovers to fuel a 13-2 run that Stewart, who finished with a team-high 15, capped with a steal and layup for a 26-5 lead with 4:32 left before establishing a 28-10 cushion at halftime.
“Tonight, we hit shots, and the bigs stepped up big,” Mitchell said. “I’ve been preaching we’ve got to play inside-out all year, and we finally clicked and finally came together.”
Upon their return to the floor for the second half, they were greeted by darkness with parts of the arena only illuminated by light emanating from the cell phones in the crowd.
Once the decision was made to move the game, both teams were granted additional time to warm up, and Tara responded by increasing its lead to 35-15 on Johnson’s driving layup and held as much as a 31-point lead (52-21) on Clifton Green’s 3-pointer with 3:07 left.
Woodlawn (5-9) was led by Jaylen Johnson’s 15 points.
SOUTHERN LAB 41, GLEN OAKS 40: Southern Lab (10-2) erased a one-point deficit with four minutes to play on Kyle Green’s layup that sparked a 6-0 run and gave the Kittens enough cushion at the end.
“As a coach you want to get that practice time in but practicing on Christmas is not an option for us,” Southern Lab coach Devan Clark said. “I expected us to be a little sluggish but not that bad. We came out real lethargic.”
Keon Hamilton’s putback and a Tyler Panyanouvong pass set up a basket by Sheldon Carroll, who scored 16 of his team-high 21 in the second half, made it 40-35 with 1:22 left.
Ronald Smith’s basket ended a five-minute scoring drought for Glen Oaks (5-6) but Chris Dancey’s potential tying 3-point try was long with 13 seconds to play.
Carroll made it 41-37 before Smith, who led Glen Oaks with 10, made a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Panthers didn’t help their cause with 5-of-17 free-throw shooting, including 3-of-11 in the second half.
The teams were tied at 12 at halftime, and there were eight lead changes in the second half.
“To win you have to put your selfish motives aside and sacrifice for the win,” Clark said. “Guys went out and responded.”