Lee beats JT in OT thriller

John Tyler's Martese Christian attempts to dribble past Robert E. Lee's Demondrick Barker on Friday night at Wagstaff Gymnasium. The Red Raiders won in overtime, 65-63. (Haylee Bazil | etfinalscore.com)

Travis Yoesting, tyoesting@tylerpaper.com

Robert E. Lee coach Alan Johnston challenges his players after every game to ask themselves if they gave their all.

After Friday night’s game against rival John Tyler, the Red Raiders coach knows it’ll be an easy answer for all 11 players on his roster.

Jack Calhoun sent the game to overtime with a layup as the buzzer sounded and then scored the game-winning shot with 10 seconds left as Lee defeated JT 65-63 at Wagstaff Gymnasium.

“I challenge them to … look at the man in the mirror and ask that guy in the mirror, ‘Did I give everything I had in this game?’” Johnston said. “I can tell you there’s 11 boys that’ll be able to go in there and say, ‘Yes I did.’”

The Lions (2-2) never trailed in the fourth quarter and had three shots bounce off the rim in the final five seconds as they lost to the Red Raiders for the fourth straight year.

“I thought it was just a hard-fought game all the way to the end,” JT coach Cedeno Clark said. “I liked the way they battled. You can’t have the turnovers down the stretch and the missed free throws.

“We’re going to use it as a building process and try to get better.”

Calhoun led the Red Raiders (2-1) with 16 points and made a key play late in overtime. With Lee trailing by two and JT milking the clock, Calhoun forced a turnover that led to a layup for Rico Major to tie the game at 63 with 1:05 remaining.

The Lions again worked the clock for most of the final minute before Lee’s Caleb Johnston came up with a rebound and sent an outlet pass that led to Calhoun’s game-winning basket.

“What it does is it lifts our confidence because we’ve beaten a very good team,” Alan Johnston said. “Coach Clark does a great job with John Tyler basketball. They’re headed in the right direction; they’ve got plenty of athleticism. This is a big win for us.”

Caleb Johnston tallied a double-double for the Red Raiders with 14 points and 10 boards. Major added 12 points, six rebounds and four steals. Demondrick Barker scored nine of his 10 in the first half for Lee.

John Tyler senior Keaunte Humber poured in a game-high 20 points, going 12 for 14 at the line and making back-to-back three-point plays in the fourth quarter to put the Lions up 52-45.

The Red Raiders pulled within 55-54 with 1:30 left in regulation when the Lions attempted an off-the-backboard alley-oop that Lee instead took the other way for an easy layup by Major. The play swung momentum and set the stage for the Red Raiders’ comeback.

“We never gave in,” Clark said. “We had it, now we just have to find ways to close the game. We’re still a young ball club.

“It’s a growing experience for us. I like what we have. We’re going to continue to work.”

Ken’Darrion Johnson, who had 12 points and nine rebounds for JT, opened the first quarter and overtime with a 3-pointer. Johnson later dished to Rodney Bendy for a deuce to give the Lions a 63-60 lead before Lee again rallied.

“I don’t get into the Tyler (rivalry) stuff, I don’t believe in that,” Alan Johnston said. “I think these are two good basketball teams.

“It’s not a rivalry, it’s a gentleman’s competition in the greatest sport ever created.”

———

At Wagstaff Gymnasium

Robert E. Lee 65, John Tyler 63

Lee15176207 — 65

John Tyler151512165 — 63

ROBERT E. LEE — Rico Major, 12; D’Varius Taylor, 3; Demondrick Barker, 10; Jack Calhoun, 16; Robert Pulliam, 2; Kevin Ramsey, 8; Caleb Johnston, 14. FG: 22-52. FT: 11-20.

JOHN TYLER — J’Khari Lewis, 6; Jordan Caldwell, 2; Isaac Warren, 5; Patrick Williams, 4; Rodney Bendy, 7; Keaunte Humber, 20; Kevron Jackson, 7; Ken’Darrion Johnson, 12. FG: 20-57. FT: 15-24.

THREE POINT GOALS — REL: Barker, Calhoun (2), Johnston (2). JT: Lewis (2), Warren, Johnson (3).

RECORDS — Lee 2-1; John Tyler 2-2.

NEXT UP — Forney vs. Robert E. Lee, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, TABO Inc. Classic at UT Tyler; Athens at John Tyler, 3:30 p.m. Monday.

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