TERRELL — John Tyler, the school from the Rose City, appeared right at home against Royse City.
The Lions looked comfortable inside with Tyus Bowser, and used a strong defensive effort to shut the door on Royse City’s season with a 57-39 win to open the Class 4A state basketball playoffs Tuesday at the Terrell Athletic Complex.
Bowser punished Royse City with 22 points and 10 rebounds as JT won for the 23rd time in its last 25 games.
JT (24-7) returns to the same site at 7:30 p.m. Friday for an area-round matchup against Ennis. JT beat Lancaster in the area round last year in Terrell.
The Lions finished the game on a 10-0 run, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the final 3:16.
Royse City (16-18) endured a similar drought in the second, allowing 2:55 to elapse in between scores. Royse City connected on 15 of 47 shots for the game (32 percent).
“This is playoff basketball,” JT’s acting coach Cedeno Clark said. “If we can continue to hold people under 40, we’ll have a shot.”
JT received a sterner test in the rematch after beating Royse City 81-37 in last year’s first round. JT ended the first period tied before a 14-2 run going into the half added up to a 28-14 cushion.
Royse City cut it to five on two occasions after heating up for three 3-pointers in the third.
JT attacked the basket relentlessly, making seven straight free throws to open up a 12-point lead in the fourth. JT atoned for the lack of outside shooting — the Lions made only one 3-pointers — with 30 free throw attempts. In the meantime, three starters fouled out for Royse City, which received a team-high 12 points from Matt Stone.
Bowser showed he could dominate inside for more than three quarters, going 8-for-11 from the floor on an array of point-blank buckets. For good measure, Bowser played a little guard, penetrating past the defense for a three-point play late, putting the finishing touches on the victory.
Thanks to Bowser, JT outscored Royse city 32-18 on points inside the paint and outrebounded its opponent 30-16.
“Tyus is unbelievable,” Clark said. “He can do everything — put it on the floor and shoot outside. He’s the first one in the gym and the last to leave.”
Only the win, not the margin, mattered in the end to Clark, the team’s acting coach with Tony Pinson out indefinitely after being placed on administrative leave, and enduring a short hospital stint with heart complications.
JT dealt with another key absence, playing a man down after losing sharp-shooting junior guard Greg Ward for the season. Ward suffered season-ending facial injuries after JT locked up the District 14-4A title with a win over Jacksonville.
Senior guard Caleb Willis wore Ward’s No. 1 jersey to honor him. Willis closed strong, making his final five foul shots to finish with seven points. Willis added six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
KenDarrion Johnson, a freshman wing, chipped in five points, with all coming during a 10-0 run that ended with JT in front, 24-12.
Fred Ross recorded 11 points to help the offense, while Tra’Vion Horn helped spark the defense with seven rebounds and four steals.
“We went to our 1-2-2 (defense) and that helped a lot,” Clark said of an adjustment made during the fourth period, where JT outscored Royse City 19-6. “(Horn) played outstanding defense. We have to find ways to put the ball in the basket. But to have these kind of wins is good.”
John Tyler 57, Royse City 39
Class 4A Bi-District Playoff
At Terrell Athletic Complex
Royse City 11 3 19 6 — 39
John Tyler 11 17 10 19 — 57
ROYSE CITY — Tre Hayes, 2; Michael Webb, 3; Matt Stone, 12; Cayce Dahmer, 9; Jamie Briceno, 6; David Frye, 7.
JOHN TYLER — Darion Flowers, 8; Caleb Willis, 7; Jordan Caldwell, 2; Fred Ross, 11; KenDarrion Johnson, 5; Tra’Vion Horn, 2; Tyus Bowser, 22.
FIELD GOALS — Royse City 15-47; John Tyler 20-41. FREE THROWS — Royse City 4-8; John Tyler 16-30. THREE-POINT GOALS — Royse City 5-20 (Briceno 2, Dahmer 2, Frye); John Tyler 1-6 (Johnson). REBOUNDS — Royse City 16 (Dahmer, Frye 4); John Tyler 30 (Bowser 10). ASSISTS — Royse City 9 (Webb 4), John Tyler 16 (Willis 4). TOTAL FOULS — Royse City 21, John Tyler 9. TECHNICALS — Ross. EST. ATT. — 600.
RECORDS — Royse City 16-18. John Tyler 24-7.
NEXT UP — John Tyler vs. Ennis, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Terrell Athletic Complex, in area playoffs.