TERRELL — John Tyler’s area of concern shifts to a team streaking as well as the Lions of late.
JT, winners of seven straight games, takes on Lucas Lovejoy in the area basketball playoffs Friday at the Terrell Athletic Complex. The contest tips off at 7:30 p.m.
While JT (15-14) moved over .500 for the first time all year with a bi-district win, Lovejoy (23-10) captured its 12th victory in 13 contests earlier in the week.
The Lions lost in the same area round last year to Ennis. JT played the contest without one starter, and two weeks removed from a coaching change after winning 21 consecutive games at one point. The Lions’ course reversed leading into the 2013 postseason, with JT dropping as many as eight games under .500 before their current streak.
JT dispatched Mansfield Summit 62-58 in an area win Tuesday. The Lions trailed by one point to start the fourth period before finishing strong. JT used a 7-0 run to take a 60-52 lead and held off Summit. Tyus Bowser topped JT with 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Isaac Warren connected on four treys and netted 13 points. Fred Ross contributed 13 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Lions.
The Lions enter the second round contest on the heels of perhaps their best two games, including a six-point win over No. 11 Jacksonville in the regular season finale. First-year JT head coach Cedeno Clark believes the Lions can play even better.
“We still have a lot we can improve on,” Clark said. “We’ve yet to play our best game. Our best basketball is still ahead of us.”
JT shot 55 percent from the field against Summit, and 62 percent from beyond the arc. On the flip side, JT struggled at the free throw line, where they shot 50 percent, turned the ball over 19 times and allowed 16 offensive rebounds while yielding 13 second-chance points.
Clark wants the Lions in attack mode, meaning no standing still or taking ill-advised jumpers.
“Still our offense wasn’t where I wanted,” Clark said. “I think we got a little stagnant on the perimeter. That’s not our mindset, shooting a lot of 3’s. We know we’re athletic and can get to the basket at will.”
The Leopards breezed through district play with a 13-1 record, and bounced back from a hiccup against Wylie with a 56-33 triumph over Hallsville Monday. Lovejoy led 27-8 at one point in the first half.
Lovejoy, coached by Kyle Herreman, touts a strong defense, allowing only 48.7 points per game. Offensively Lovejoy likes to move the ball around and displays balance with no players averaging more than 13 points.
The duo of 6-6 senior wing Jake Flaggert (13.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists per game) and 6-4 senior wing Trevor Eckard (11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game) powers Lovejoy. Cameron Knight netted a team-high 14 points while Eckard added 11 points and Flaggert eight points against Hallsville.
Elias Olvera, a senior guard, runs the offense, averaging 4.3 dimes. Jordan Reed, another Lovejoy senior guard, adds scoring power after hitting for 21 points in the regular season finale against Greenville.
JT’s core four of senior starters Bowser, Ross, Darion Flowers and Greg Ward have been a part of 15 varsity playoff victories, including six in basketball. Clark hopes to ride the quartet into regionals next week, along with a deep roster that saw a dozen players log minutes in the first round.
“These guys are warriors,” Clark said. “If they take coaching like they have in the past, the sky’s the limit.”
LIONS’ TALES: Tickets to tonight’s area contest cost $3 for students and $5 for adults. The winner between JT and Lovejoy advances to the regional quarterfinals to face either No. 4 Arlington Seguin (30-4) or Wylie (13-18), who meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Lewisville . ….Lovejoy High School is located in south central Collin County and serves most of the cities of Lucas, most of Fairview, and a small portion of Allen. Until the Fall of 2006, all high school students zoned to Lovejoy Independent School District attended nearby Allen High School. Lovejoy graduated its first senior class in 2010 and competed in Class 3A prior to the 2012-13 school year. ...To get to the Terrell ISD Athletic Complex, head west on Interstate 20. Take Exit 501 toward TX-34. Merge onto Frontage Road and turn right on TX-34. Go a few miles and turn left onto E. Moore. Next, turn right onto N. Rockwall Ave. and left onto W. State Street, which turns slightly right and becomes Poetry Road, which runs you into the basketball venue.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
LOVEJOY – Jordan Reed (5-10, Sr., Guard), Elias Overa (6-0, Sr. Guard).Cameron Knight (6-3, Sr., Wing), Trevor Eckard (6-4, Sr., Wing), Jake Flaggert (6-6, Sr., Wing).
JOHN TYLER – Isaac Warren (6-1, So., Guard), Greg Ward (6-0, Sr., Guard), Darion Flowers (6-0, Sr., Wing), Fred Ross (6-2, Sr., Wing), Tyus Bowser (6-3, Sr., Forward).