Just three days after playing arguably the team’s worst game of the season in a 28-point loss to Mt. Hebron, Long Reach came out on Monday night against Hammond and flipped the script.
Behind a game-high 23 points from Shane Barr, the Lightning raced out to an 11-point lead at halftime and then cruised the rest of the way to a 72-56 victory over the visiting Golden Bears. For a Long Reach team that had lost five straight games, it was a huge step in the right direction.
“We’re in a deep hole with a lot of adversity coming our way and I’ve challenged the guys to keep working and keep fighting. And, you know what, I thought a lot of guys responded and did well for us tonight,” Long Reach coach Al Moraz Jr. said. “It’s a process and we’re playing a lot of young guys, so you need games like this now and then reinforce the things we’ve been telling them.”
It was an especially impressive bounce-back effort from Barr, who was held scoreless against the Vikings on Friday. That game marked the first time all season he had been held under six points.
“I felt like I needed to take more responsibility for leading the team, especially with these bad couple weeks,” Barr said. “My team gave me confidence to come back and I felt like all of us played with a lot of energy tonight.”
In addition to Barr, Long Reach (3-10, 6-10) also got standout efforts from Terrell Lamar (13 points), David Clark (12 points) and Ryan Menusan (6 points, 9 rebounds). Dontae Ross (21 points and 9 rebounds) and Andre McFadden (18 points) paced Hammond (3-10, 5-11) in the loss.
For as well as Long Reach played for the majority of the night, though, the opening three minutes belonged to Hammond. On the strength of three 3-pointers from McFadden, the Golden Bears surged ahead, 11-4.
“I called timeout and just tried to remind them about closing out and playing hard,” Moraz said. “You preach good starts and we didn't have that today, but I was pleased with how they responded after that. We really just had to settle down, find their shooters defensively and run our stuff.”
It didn't take long for the Lightning to find their rhythm. Menusan scored four straight points to spark a 13-2 run that gave Long Reach its first lead of the game.
And, the rest of the way, Long Reach never trailed again. The lead was four, 21-17, at the end of the first quarter and was all the way up to 11, 40-29, at the half.
“I feel like it was all mental and we just had to have a good mindset to bounce back from that bad start,” Barr said. “Good players move on to the next play and we did a really good job of that.”
Hammond never managed to get any closer than eight points in the second half. With every push the Golden Bears made, Long Reach had an answer.
Over the final 2 minutes, 14 seconds of regulation, the Lightning were a perfect 14-14 from the foul line.
Barr, who hit four of those foul shots, says getting back in the win column meant a lot and was a nice reward for the team’s hard work in practice.
“It’s definitely been tough, but you have to keep playing hard and keep working. It’s on us to work that much harder in practice because we are down there at the bottom,” Barr said. “Games like this definitely really boost up the locker room and gives us confidence going forward.”
Long Reach 72, Hammond 56
LR (3-10, 6-10): Barr 23, Lamar 13, Clark 12, Carter 7, Menusan 6, Montgomery 4, Brodnax 3, Hall 2, Duckett 2.
Ha (3-10, 5-11): Ross 21, McFadden 18, Coleman 8, Wallace 6, Johnson 2, Wilcher 1.
Half: 40-28 LR.