After losing out on the hunt for the District 16-4A boys' basketball championship, John Tyler threw the arrow to break the Tribe's quest for perfection.
With a packed house of more than 2,500 on hand, JT tagged the Jacksonville Indians for their first loss with a 54-48 win over the 10th-ranked Indians Tuesday at the Lions Den.
JT avenged a one-point loss at Jacksonville in the first meeting, a setback that ultimately ended the Lions' two-year run as district champion. Jacksonville (32-1, 9-1 in 16-4A) entered the game unbeaten before falling to the Lions for the fifth time in six district contests over the past three seasons.
Jacksonville claimed its last lead of the game, 45-43, with 3:17 left when Dadrian Franklin found Daytron Thompson alone inside for a point-blank layup. Greg Ward went right back in the paint on the opposite end nine seconds later to convert a three-point play, returning the lead in JT's favor (48-47).
Jordan Caldwell canned JT's only 3-pointer of the night for a 51-47 lead with 1:42 remaining. Tyus Bowser added three free throws to make it a three-shot game.
Bowser paced JT with 16 points and seven rebounds. Caldwell contributed 11 points and Fred Ross recorded 10 points and a team-high eight boards for the district runner-up Lions (14-14, 8-2).
"I told the kids we must finish," JT head coach Cedeno Clark said. "I felt like we could play with them for three quarters. But it doesn't matter if you don't play for four quarters.
"No, we didn't get the district championship, but our concept is one game at a time. Everything starts over now."
Franklin fueled Jacksonville with 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks. Thompson tallied 11 points, four rebounds and two steals for the Tribe.
JT played at a high tempo most of the night, outscoring Jacksonville 18-2 on fastbreak points.
Jacksonville allowed JT 15 points off turnovers and shot 41 percent (7-17) from the free throw line. In the process, the Indians failed to duplicate the earlier encounter when they erased a 13-point second half deficit and finished the game on an 8-1 run.
"We just didn't execute in the fourth quarter like when we were at Jacksonville," Indians coach Brent Kelley said. "We missed a lot of free throws and turnovers led to easy buckets, and Caldwell hit the big shot to give them a four-point cushion."
The Lions never trailed in the first period, with Ross leading the way with six points and one assist for an 18-15 cushion. Jacksonville settled down in the second period, ending the half on a 5-0 run, capped by Thompson's steal and layup to beat the buzzer, to put the Indians ahead 28-27 during the intermission.
Following a lively halftime during which Jacksonville and JT fans traded dance moves, the teams resumed the see-saw affair.
Jacksonville built three different three-point leads before Caldwell caught fire, scoring twice in transition to put JT in the driver's seat, 38-37, heading into the final frame.
The lead changed hands three times the fourth period until Ward's three-point play.
"That's what it's all about," Clark said. "It was a war all the way through. We battled back and forth and beat a top 10 team in the state."
The two teams turn their attention to the postseason, where they combined for seven playoff wins the previous two years, including Jacksonville's victory over JT in the regional quarterfinals in 2011.
"It was just a great playoff atmosphere," added Kelley before exiting the tunnel and boarding the team bus. "It was the best possible warm-up game we could have going into the playoffs. It released the pressure of trying to stay undefeated. We'll use that, refocus and get ready for the playoffs."
After adding seven football players late, JT hopes to be peaking at the right time. Tuesday's win marked JT's sixth straight.
"It doesn't look like we're a good team based on our record but now everybody is 0-0 so it doesn't matter," Clark said. "If we get locked in, the sky's the limit for what these kids or program can do."
John Tyler 54, Jacksonville 48
Jacksonville 15 13 9 11 - 48
John Tyler 18 9 11 16 - 54
JACKSONVILLE - Dadrian Franklin, 12; Daytron Thompson, 11; Kedarius Buckingham, 9; Londedrick Taylor, 3; Kevin Lybrand, 1; Ozzian Clayborne, 4; Raybon Riden, 8. FG 20-47 FT 7-17.
JOHN TYLER - Darion Flowers, 6; Greg Ward, 8; Jordan Caldwell, 11; Fred Ross, 10; Elliott Hart, 1; William Vaughn, 2; Tyus Bowser, 16. FG 19-47 FT 15-25.
Three-Point Goals - Jacksonville 1-6 (Franklin), John Tyler 1-7 (Caldwell). Rebounds - Jacksonville 25 (Buckingham 8), John Tyler 32 (Ross 8). Assists - Jacksonville 9 (Thompson 3), John Tyler 11 (Flowers, Ward, Ross, Bowser, 2). Blocks - Jacksonville 6 (Franklin 4), John Tyler 1 (Bendy). Steals - Jacksonville 7 (Thompson 2), John Tyler 9 (Caldwell 3). Turnovers - Jacksonville 16, John Tyler 17. Total Fouls - Jacksonville 14, John Tyler 18.
RECORDS - Jacksonville 32-1 (9-1), John Tyler 14-14 (8-2).
NEXT UP - Jacksonville vs. Lake Ridge or Lancaster in bi-district playoffs ; John Tyler vs. Mansfield Summit in bi-district playoffs.