Lions clamp down on Pine Tree for big win

John Tyler's Caleb Willis (left) and Greg Ward smother a Pine Tree player during their game Tuesday night at the Lions Den. (Herb Nygren Jr. | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

John Tyler’s backup plan worked as well as the regular first options. 

The usual starters switched roles with the reserves and John Tyler preserved its standing in first place with a 63-20 win over Pine Tree on “Parents Night” Tuesday at the Lions Den. 

JT racked up its biggest district win yet, even as its leading five scorers logged right at 14 of the 28 minutes of action on the court together. JT, which entered the 4A rankings at No. 25 this week, ran its district record to a perfect 10-0 against last-place Pine Tree (0-10).

Tyus Bowser topped all scorers with 18 points off the bench, with the most memorable two coming after a steal and jaw-dropping, one-handed dunk down the lane in the second period. 

“I thought both groups played well,” JT coach Tony Pinson said. “I wanted to give the second group a chance. I wanted the intensity level to be up.”

Tra’Vion Horn highlighted JT’s starters on the night with nine points. Horn hustled his way to seven steals, spearheading JT’s best defensive effort to date. JT held Pine Tree scoreless in the third and to two points in the first period.

All 10 players scored for the Lions, who won their 20th straight game. 

The starting lineup featured Horn along with Keaunte Humber (four points, five rebounds), Redis Jones (five points), Javonte Tramble (four points, two steals, block) and Jordan Caldwell (one point, one assist).

Along with Bowser, JT received a boost off the bench from Darion Flowers (eight points, two assists), Caleb Willis (five points, three assists), Greg Ward (five points, two assists) and Fred Ross (four points, two steals). 

JT iced the game early with a 26-0 run spanning the first and second periods. 

The Lions outscored the Pirates 18-0 in the third, with six different players finding the net. 

JT’s regular starting five played the last two minutes and change of the first, and roughly the first half of the final three periods before exiting for good with the lead at 58-16. 

Pine Tree turned the ball over 33 times while facing JT’s full-court pressure most of the night and struggled executing in the halfcourt, shooting 22 percent for the night. 

“We did a lot of things to disrupt them and our press hurt them,” said Pinson, whose team totaled 17 steals. “We played good defense and were all over the place. We wanted to hold them under 25 points and we did that.”

John Tyler 63, Pine Tree 20

Pine Tree       2       10      0       8       —       20

John Tyler      15      16      18      14      —       63

PINE TREE — Hays, 1; Barker, 2; Smith, 6; Manns ,1; Chumley, 4; Allen, 6. 

JOHN TYLER — Darion Flowers, 8; Greg Ward, 5; Jordan Caldwell, 1; Fred Ross, 4; Keaunte Humber, 4; Caleb Willis, 5; Tra’Vion Horn, 9; Javonte Gramble, 4; Tyus Bowser, 18; Redis Jones, 5. 

FIELD GOALS — Pine Tree 8-36; John Tyler 24-62. FREE THROWS — Pine Tree 4-13; John Tyler 12-20. THREE-POINT GOALS — Pine Tree 0-4; John Tyler 3-8 (Jones, Ward, Willis). REBOUNDS — Pine Tree 32 (Chumley 9); John Tyler 27 (Bowser 6). ASSISTS — Pine Tree 5 (Hays 2); John Tyler 12 (Willis 3). TOTAL FOULS — Pine Tree 18; John Tyler 11. 

RECORDS — Pine Tree 1-24 (0-10); John Tyler 21-5 (10-0). 

NEXT UP — Whitehouse at John Tyler, 7:30 p.m., Friday.

 

Lady Lions Score Win Over First-Place Pine Tree

LONGVIEW — LaTifah Rainey scored 21 points and John Tyler handed Pine Tree its first loss in district play with a convincing 51-34 win over the Lady Pirates on the road Tuesday night. 

The Lady Lions (21-8, 10-2 in 14-4A) pulled within a game of the Lady Pirates (21-7, 11-1) for first with two district contests remaining. 

JT stiffened on defense, holding Pine Tree to single digits in the first three periods. JT used a balanced attack to pull through, with Tiaka Lee scoring eight points and Quaneshia Johnson and Amia Wickware finishing with seven points apiece. 

The Lady Lions captured their seventh straight victory — all by double digits — since losing 40-37 to the Lady Pirates in Tyler in early January. 

“The key was we kept turnovers down, our defense played exceptionally well and we had good teamwork on offense,” Lady Lions coach Mike Smith said. “The girls had their mind made up to play well and do what we had to to give ourselves a chance to be district champs.”

JT finishes district with games against two out of playoff position it already owns wins against — Friday at Whitehouse and at home the following Tuesday versus Marshall. 

———

District 14-4A

John Tyler 51, Pine Tree 34

John Tyler   14   7   15   15 —51

Pine Tree   8   4   9   13 —34

JOHN TYLER — Tiaka Lee, 8; Tameal Jones, 4; Quaneshia Johnson, 7; Amia Wickware, 7; Nola Jackson, 4; LaTifah Rainey, 21.

PINE TREE — Patterson, 6; Clayton, 3; Holmes, 4; Popelar, 17; Mitchell, 2; Baylor, 3.

THREE POINT GOALS — JT: Lee, Wickware; PT: Popelar (4).

RECORDS — John Tyler 21-8 (10-2); Pine Tree 21-7 (11-1).

NEXT UP — John Tyler at Whitehouse, Friday; Pine Tree at Jacksonville, Friday.

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