It was a tough first half for Tara at Catholic on Tuesday. The Trojans couldn’t find the range from outside, struggling in rebounding and managed only eight first-half points. Even a more energetic second half, led by 6-5 post man Deontre Thornton, wasn’t enough to bring them back, and they lost a 50-34 decision to the Bears.
The visitors got a quick 3-pointer to from Chris Avery to open the game, but trailed 11-6 after one quarter, and didn’t score again until Patrick Arnold converted two free throws with 27.6 seconds left in the second.
“I had to leave three kids behind tonight, but we’ve got to establish discipline,” Tara coach Marqus Mitchell said. “The basket seemed to have a lid on it (for us). I think we played complacent in the beginning, and got off to a slow start.”
Catholic (7-2) wasn’t flashy, but they were consistent, using their guard play to take control.
“We are guard-heavy,” Catholic coach Mark Casio said. “We like our bigs, but we have more guards that are experienced and they run the show for us. Tara plays really, really hard, and they pressure you and change defenses.
“When we were able to handle their pressure, it led to some good stuff. Fortunately we were able to get a lead, and when they would go on a run, then we would go on a run."
Catholic’s starting guards finished with 28 points, led by Tensley Aldridge with 11 and Dean Jolly with 10.
Point guard Tyler Mixon added seven points and was the Bears leading rebounder with eight.
Austin Lachney also had 11 points for Catholic, all in the second half and most of them on assists from his backcourt teammates.
Tara (3-8) began to find its game in the third quarter. With Thornton scoring nine points and Arnold and Trevon Bernel each hitting a 3-pointer, the Trojans more than doubled their first-half output, racking up 17 points. Catholic held off the rally with 19 points, led by Aldridge and Mixon with five apiece.
Mixon, Aldridge, and another guard, Remy Robert, each had a 3-pointer in the quarter.
The final quarter was even, with Lachney scoring seven of his points behind the Tara defense and Mixon getting an exclamation point basket on an acrobatic, driving layup.
Casio substituted freely in the last quarter as he had throughout the game.
“We think we’re pretty deep,” he said, “and we can play with a lot of different lineups. It’s a luxury as a coach to know you can put someone in there who can guard and handle the ball and score.
“It’s a great group to coach, we’re practicing wel, and I’m real satisfied with where we are right now.'
Thornton was the game’s high scorer with 12 points, and he would have had more if he could have improved his 2-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line. He also lost two points on a nice drive in the second quarter when he was whistled for a charging foul.
“He (Thornton) was big for us tonight,” Mitchell said. “He’s a football player, and I won’t have him next week because he’ll be playing in the Red Stick Bowl. I’ve enjoyed watching him grow as a kid and as a player.”
Orlando Burks Jr., scored four of the Trojans’ nine fourth-quarter points on his only baskets, and Mitchell credited Arnold, who had a 3-pointer in the third quarter and finished with seven points, with playing well at times.