The record's there, but John Tyler boys basketball coach Cedeno Clark still isn't sure what to make of his team.

Clark has led the Lions to their best record entering district play since the 2009-10 season, when they entered league play ranked No. 25 in Class 5A.

But with District 16-5A play opening Friday in Nacogdoches, the one thing Clark knows is that his team will play hard.

"It's still a question mark out there," Clark said Tuesday. "It's still a question mark, because, like I told them, we finished second the last two years and they've really got to bring it this next stretch of games throughout district.

"As hard as they play, I always like our chances if they play hard and continue to play hard like that."

Tipoff for Friday's league opener is 7:30 p.m. The 14th-ranked Lady Lions face the Lady Dragons beforehand at 6 p.m. The JT girls (15-3) opened league play with a 47-45 win over newcomer Lufkin on Tuesday.

The Lions' records heading into district the last four years have been 8-7, 6-12, 7-5 and 8-3. JT finished second the last two years after winning league titles in 2011 and 2012.

This year the Lions enter league play at 11-3, having finished runner-up at the Greenville Tournament over the weekend.

John Tyler has done so with just eight players on the roster during the football team's deep playoff run.

Players like senior post J'Michael Jasper, junior forward Jacob Owens-Bush and junior forward Patrick Williams have helped the Lions to their best start in five years, while football players like seniors Rodney Bendy and Isaac Warren work their way back from a long season.

The Lions have had balanced scoring with all eight players capable of going for double digits on any given night.

The league opener against Nacogdoches is the only 16-5A game before the Christmas break.

Over the break, JT will play in the Killeen Classic Dec. 29-31. The Lions return from home on Jan. 6 when defending league champion Whitehouse comes to the Lions Den.

"As hard as these kids play, you can't ask for nothing else right now," Clark said. "If they continue to play hard and locked in I like our chances."

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