Jaron Johnson missed his first three shots — and not much else. The sophomore from John Tyler scored 28 points on 10 of 16 shooting, and added nine rebounds, to pace Tyler Junior College to a 57-50 win over Highway 31 rival Kilgore College on Saturday.
The Apache Ladies beat the Lady Rangers in the opening game, 71-65, giving TJC a sweep of the Region XIV basketball doubleheader at Wagstaff Gymnasium.
Points are at a premium and possessions are few when the Apaches (10-5, 3-3 North) take on the half-court Rangers (11-4, 3-2). TJC shot 48 percent (22 of 46) and never trailed, while Kilgore shot 31 percent (17 of 55) and went 2 of 15 from the 3-point line.
“Win or lose, you know you’ve played against a well-organized, well-coached team every time you play Kilgore,” said TJC head coach Mike Marquis, who improved to 13-8 in the series. “We were fortunate. I think they missed some shots they’ve been making this year. We were able to finish possessions with rebounds … our offense was OK.”
Freshman point guard Trent Washington dished out 10 assists for the Apaches, who expanded their lead in crunch time instead of letting the other team rally.
“With the shoulder injury, (Washington) wasn’t going to shoot a ton to begin with,” Marquis said. “He was able to get the ball in the hands of the guys at the right time.”
Like Johnson, a 6-5 wing, whose jumper snapped the only tie of the game to make it 33-31 with 12:26 left in regulation. Johnson, in fact, poured in 20 of his team’s 30 second-half points.
“He was huge down the stretch,” Marquis said. “We’re not surprised by that. We tried to go to him several times and he rewarded us with good basketball.”
The Apaches took an 11-point lead — their largest — at the 1:11 mark on a pair of Johnson free throws after he grabbed an offensive rebound and got fouled.
Kilgore’s top scoring threat, sophomore guard Travis Betran, finished with 16 points and was 1 for 7 on 3-pointers. Freshman forward Fred Mattison led the Rangers with 17 points.
The Apaches dominated the opening 7 ½ minutes, making 7 of 10 field goals to Kilgore’s 0 for 6. TJC freshman Ta’Jon Welcome had six of his 10 points during a 16-3 start, but the Apaches lost some momentum entering halftime with a five-point lead. The contest was tied 31-31 with almost 13 minutes left in regulation.
The Apache Ladies (12-5, 4-2) shook off Wednesday’s emotional overtime loss to No. 1 Trinity Valley by working the ball inside to 6-2 freshman center Kirbi Clark, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Clark was the leader of a balanced scoring effort that included point guard Shawnee Johnson with 13 points, the last eight coming in the final two minutes as the Apache Ladies nursed a narrow lead to the finish line.
Sophomore guard Markisha Hawkins was next with 12 points and six assists. She made her last six free throws after missing her first three. Sophomore forward Ashley Benjamin contributed 11 points and seven rebounds.
But the story was Clark, who had struggled at times this season before going 8 for 12 from the field against Kilgore (8-6, 2-3).
“We’re going to have to utilize Kirbi,” said Apache Ladies head coach Trenia Jones, who improved to 18-5 against Kilgore. “She’s a big presence under the basket and she catches the ball well. That’s going to open up our outside people if we can get that presence, somebody wanting it at the block.
“We pretty much went into a set offense that helps focus in on her and then kick it on the outside, because our guards are kind of shying away … early in the season they were wanting the ball more … now we’ve got to give different looks.”
Jones preferred Saturday’s execution down the stretch over the turnover-fest against Trinity Valley. This time, TJC kept all its players active as none fouled out.
There was little room for error for either side, evidenced by 10 ties and 11 lead changes. The final lead change occurred when Hawkins converted a three-point play with 10:53 left, making the score 51-48.
Kilgore came back to tie the game on Alicia Johnson’s turnaround shot with 4:00 on the clock. TJC countered with a one-and-one free throw by Benjamin and a post delivery from Clark.
Aundrea Gamble, a 5-9 freshman, had 17 points for Kilgore and made all eight of her free throws.
Tyler 71, Kilgore 65
KILGORE — Lauren McKinney, 4; Aundrea Gamble, 17; Cieara Jimmerson, 2; Demetrius Heard, 2; Alexius Hightower, 2; Taylor Tucker, 8; Victoria Billingsley, 8; Bianca McGee, 11; Alicia Johnson, 11. FG 23-52 FT 18-21.
TYLER — Ericka House, 0; Markisha Hawkins, 12; Amber Ames, 0; Carolina Lopez, 2; Ashley Benjamin, 11; Keaira Arion, 9; Tayshia Hunt, 0; Cecilia Okoye, 8; Shawnee Johnson, 13; Kirbi Clark, 16. FG 23-54 FT 24-31.
THREE-POINT GOALS — KC (1-7): Gamble; TJC (1-9): Arion.
HALFTIME SCORE — Tyler 35-34.
TURNOVERS — KC: 23; TJC: 17.
RECORDS — Kilgore 8-6 (2-3); Tyler 12-5 (4-2).
NEXT UP — Kilgore at Paris, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday; Tyler at Mountain View, 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Tyler 57, Kilgore 50
KILGORE — Jalen Washington, 0; Chinedu Amajoyi, 2; Travis Betran, 16; Trey Potter, 5; Maurice Taylor, 0; Ashton Khan, 6; Fred Mattison, 17; Justin Felicia, 0; Braylon Lazare, 2; Patrick Gnagbo, 2; Michael Eneh, 0. FG 17-55 FT 14-18.
TYLER — Jaron Johnson, 28; Trevor Berkeley, 3; Trent Washington, 2; Hershey Robinson, 4; Kameron LaTouche, 0; Chris Coleman, 4; Ta’Jon Welcome, 10; Winslo Barry, 0; Alton Tanner, 4; Daniel Edozie, 2. FG 22-46 FT 9-15.
THREE-POINT GOALS — KC (2-15): Betran, Potter; TJC (4-12): Johnson (3), Berkeley.
HALFTIME SCORE — Tyler 27-22.
TURNOVERS — KC: 10; TJC: 13.
RECORDS — Kilgore 11-4 (3-2 North); Tyler 10-5 (3-3 North).
NEXT UP — Kilgore at Paris, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; Tyler at Blinn, 4 p.m. Saturday.
EST. ATT. — 400.