JACKSONVILLE — John Tyler junior wing Keaunte Humber courts success not in a number of sports, just his bread-and-butter one.
The year-round cager marks one constant over the past three years for a John Tyler team that has undergone a coaching change and numerous starting lineups since last year.
Staying on the court from January through December enhances his game, one based around the perimeter, he said.
“You have to stay real to what you want to do, stay out of trouble and be smart,” Humber said. “Instead of me worrying about football, I can focus on basketball, basketball, basketball.
“I work on my handling, everything a guard does. That’s where I want to play when I go to college.”
Humber joined the varsity as a freshman, when JT went 14-0 in district and reached the quarterfinals. His role increased last year when JT repeated as district champions. Humber moved into the role of go-to guy most of non-district, when he netted 20 points or more three times.
“He has the total skill set,” JT coach Cedeno Clark said about Humber. “He’s always had the length, ball skills and ability. We want him to be more aggressive. He’s coming around.”
Humber’s game blossomed in the first semester, as he used his silky 6-3 frame to lead the Lions in scoring while playing in all 21 games to date. Humber and the Lions (8-13, 2-1 in 16-A) look to get back in first place tonight against district-leading and unbeaten Jacksonville. JT swept four district games from Jacksonville the previous two seasons, although the Indians won against the Lions in the 2011 playoffs.
“They’ll be ready,” Humber said of Jacksonville. “We have to match their intensity and play team-ball to get the win.”
With Humber on varsity the last three years, JT sports a 28-3 mark in district play. A number of underclassmen constituted the varsity during Humber’s freshmen season. JT’s district win-streak reached 25 games his sophomore year before Clark stepped in late in the season as acting coach prior to being promoted to head coach in the offseason.
Humber views the past three years more as growing gains than growing pains while playing for a school rich in basketball tradition.
“It was different coming straight to varsity,” Humber said of his freshman year. “I learned the speed of how they played. My sophomore year we were good then we had a change up. We all knew Coach Clark, so it was good. Everybody’s played for him and knows how he is and how he wants us to be. He’s a wonderful coach. He wants to win like we do.”
The Lions lost pace on the Indians with a 60-46 setback to Corsicana last Friday. On a night with four all-district performers out of town for football recruiting trips, Humber headed the JT effort with 10 points. Humber hit for a season-high 29 points in non-district versus Forney and netted 20 against Terrell and Greenville. He leads the Lions in points scored on the season and averages 12.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
The Lions expect to be at full strength for tonight’s showdown.
“Now with the whole team back,” Humber said, “we should be good.”
LIONS’ TALES: The Jacksonville gymnasium seats approximately 650 people. Once capacity is reached, admission will be prevented. The junior varsity games starts the action at 5 p.m., with the freshmen (6:15 p.m.) and varsity (7:30 p.m.) set to follow.
W L Pct. W L Pct.
Jacksonville 3 0 1.000 26 0 1.000
John Tyler 2 1 .667 8 13 .380
Whitehouse 2 1 .667 18 6 .750
Nacogdoches 1 2 .333 12 9 .571
Corsicana 1 2 .33 19 6 .770
Lindale 0 3 .000 9 13 .409
Tuesday, Jan. 15
John Tyler 78, Whitehouse 65
Jacksonville 50, Corsicana 27
Nacogdoches 54, Lindale 43
Friday Jan. 18
Corsicana 60, John Tyler 46
Whitehouse 63, Lindale 54
Jacksonville 53, Nacogdoches 37
Tuesday, Jan. 22
John Tyler at Jacksonville
Corsicana at Lindale
Whitehouse at Nacogdoches