John Tyler girls basketball coach Mike Smith found just the right key to open up the game in the Lady Lions' favor.
Smith, who locked up career win No. 400 last Friday, called for a half-court trap down the stretch and John Tyler solved Palestine's persistence with eight straight points early in the fourth period for a 57-48 win on Tuesday at the Lions Den.
"It's a small milestone that I'm proud of," Smith said of getting his 400th and 401st wins over the previous five days, including last Friday's victory over Winnsboro. "It's really not me. I've been fortunate enough to be around some great players and assistant coaches and programs to help me along the way."
Tiaka Lee led JT with 15 points, with eight coming over the final 6:18 after Palestine pulled even at 40 momentarily. The Lady Lions (11-5) won for the seventh time in eight games.
The teams battled through six ties and six lead changes until Lee fed Ashtyn Beal for a layup after a steal to put JT ahead 42-40, a lead the Lady Lions never lost. After another steal seconds later, Lee laid in a shot for a four-point cushion. Beal scored in transition afterward and located Nola Jackson for an 18-footer to make it an eight-point game (48-40) with 4:42 left.
Lee factored into the rest of the buckets for JT, knifing her way past Palestine's zone defense on two straight possessions to give the Lady Lions seven-point leads each time, 51-46 and 53-46. Lee later spotted Quaneshia Johnson inside for two and ended the game with a pair of free throws as JT controlled the final period.
Neither team led by more than five points through the first three periods. Palestine put in three early buckets courtesy the duo of Paradyse Page and Dana Whitehead, who tied for game-high honors with 18 points apiece. Whitehead knocked down a 3-pointer to start the game and Page scored off a drive and a trey to give Palestine an early 8-3 advantage.
JT responded with eight straight points. Johnson (11 points, three assists) swished three triples in the first period to help JT lead by two (14-12) after one frame.
The teams entered the intermission tied at 27, with JT taking a three-point lead into the final period, one canceled when Page popped a 3-pointer to even things at 40.
Beal finished with six points and three steals, and Jackson posted six points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Lions. Amia Wickware contributed six points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots to the Lady Lions' victory. Keyana Tatum sparked JT's defense with three steals.
JT moved in its offense after Wickware's 3-pointer early in the second period, with the Lady Lions scoring 35 of their final 40 points from the paint and free throw line. JT turned its pressure defense into instant offense, with seven points off turnovers in the final period.
"We weren't playing as well as we could," Smith said of the first three periods. "I felt like in the fourth quarter we'd step it up and they did. They got in a half-court trap and they performed it well and it made a difference (to where) we could take care of the game."
John Tyler 57, Palestine 48
Palestine 12 15 10 11 — 48
John Tyler 14 13 13 17 — 57
PALESTINE — Na'Koshia Hansbrough, 4; Paradyse Page, 18; Dana Whitehead, 18; Ro'Kaya Beavers, 4; Sabrina Rogers, 2; Breanna Jackson, 2. FG 19-59 FT 5-9.
JOHN TYLER — Ashtyn Beal, 6; Tiaka Lee, 15; Tameal Jones, 3; Quaneshia Johnson, 11; Keyana Tatum, 2; Amia Wickware, 6; Donishia Rouege, 1; Nola Jackson, 6; Kayla Webb, 7. FG 21-54 FT 10-16.
Three-Point Goals — P: 5-29 (Page 4, Whitehead), JT 5-18 (Johnson 3, Lee, Wickware). Rebounds — P: 37 (Hansbrough), JT 38 (Jackson 12). Assists — P: 8 (Whitehead 7), JT 12 (Lee, Jones, Johnson 3). Blocks — P: 3 (Hansbrough 3), JT: 4 (Wickware 2). Steals — P: 9 (Whitehead 5), JT: 12 (Lee 4). Turnovers — P: 21, JT: 18. Total Fouls — P: 13, JT: 12.
RECORDS — Palestine 7-8; John Tyler 11-5.
NEXT UP — Pine Tree at John Tyler, 3 p.m. Friday.
John Tyler 46, Palestine 23
Palestine 4 4 11 3—23
John Tyler 14 11 13 12— 46
PALESTINE — Sadler, 3; Darden, 5; Wilson, 12; Baker, 3.
JOHN TYLER — Rainey, 2; Young, 2; Thomas, 5; Crowder, 2; Duncan, 6; Tiley, 3; Hackett, 2; Jackson, 5; Nelson, 4; Preston, 11; Green, 4.
RECORDS — John Tyler 15-2.