Longtime Tara High boys basketball coach Larry Grantham died Monday morning following a brief illness.
The 60-year-old Grantham coached for 36 years, compiling a 449-443 record. He came to Tara in 1987 and also coached at Holden. Funeral arrangements are pending.
“It’s hard to believe,” Zachary High coach Kenny Almond said. “You coach against a guy for years and he’s always in pretty good health. And then something like this happens. He leaves behind a lot of good friends from coaching.
“Larry was the right guy for the job at Tara. That’s not a school where you have kids who come from one community. They come from all over the place and Larry did a good job of bringing them together.
“He had some good players, but his teams were always well coached. He did it the right way. His teams played hard and they always displayed sportsmanship. There’s not a doubt in my mind that a lot of kids graduated because they had Larry Grantham in their life.”
Grantham played basketball for recently retired West Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent David Corona, who also was principal at Tara, when he prepped at Episcopal. Grantham’s best year at Tara was 1994-1995. The Trojans beat Glen Oaks to win the Bob Pettit/EBR tournament and then lost to GOHS 61-58 in the Class 4A title game at the LHSAA’s Top 28 tournament at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly.
His teams won district titles in 1995 and 2001 and also won another EBR tourney title in 2001. The Trojans were the EBR tourney runners-up in 2003 and 2004. Grantham was honored as the district Coach of the Year in 1995 and 2001.
Though he was known for his long coaching career, his yearly preseason crab boils for local and area coaches were as much a tradition as any tourney.
“Larry probably did more than anybody else to bring coaches in the East Baton Rouge area together than anybody else,” former Broadmoor and Lee High coach Larry Grayson said. “I enjoyed coaching against him, but I think what I’ll remember most are those crab boils and the way he helped kids.
“I used to go with him to pick up the crabs for the crab boil, and we’d just talk. I’m going to remember that and seeing Larry with his truck full of kids making sure everybody had a ride home.”
When he retired from coaching following the 2012-13 season, Grantham said he didn’t put much stock in wins, saying wins are for the players.
“The wins are for the kids as far as I’m concerned,” Grantham said. “My job was to prepare them to play, because really it’s all about them and not me.
“Things don’t always go your way, and you don’t always win. That’s one of the lessons you learn through athletics. I’ve been fortunate to coach some great kids. I’m proud of the team this year. They worked hard to get better and never gave up.”
LHSCA Director Gary Duhe recalled coaching against Grantham at various points in his career.
“Defense was always what Larry stressed,” Duhe said. “And whenever you shot free throws you knew he’d substitute to make sure he’d have the press set up.”