WILLS POINT — After going where only one other team did in the previous eight years, the John Tyler girls basketball team reached a stopping point.
West Mesquite punished John Tyler with its full-court pressure, forcing 33 turnovers and eliminating the Lady Lions from the postseason with a 55-37 victory Friday at Wills Point High School.
West Mesquite, ranked No. 16 in the state, advanced to the regional quarterfinals to face Sherman.
John Tyler (24-9) ends its season with the program’s most wins since 2004.
The Lady Lions trailed the entire way, turning the ball over 10 times in the first period alone to fall behind by double digits barely five minutes into the contest.
JT stormed into the half with the momentum off a 12-2 run to trail by five after the break after getting behind as many as 13 points in the second period.
The momentum disappeared in the second half, where JT went 5-for-28 from the field. Complicating matters further, JT missed 16 free throws on the night.
“We didn’t shoot free throws well and their pressure was extreme on us,” third-year JT coach Mike Smith said. “In the second quarter we sucked it up and played better and made a run at them. They were a multi-talented team.”
West Mesquite’s guard tandem of Kierra Davis (14 points) and Sha’Georgia Williams (10 points, five assists, five steals) wreaked havoc on JT’s ballhandlers. JT point guard Tiaka Lee picked up her fourth foul in the second period, causing her to start the second half on the bench. Lee finished with six points, a dozen off her season average.
After JT pulled within three on a pair of free throws from LaTifah Rainey, West Mesquite capitalized, scoring eight straight points to go ahead 34-23.
Rainey’s putback interrupted the run momentarily before West Mesquite tallied the next eight points to take a commanding 42-25 lead late in the third.
JT committed 10 more turnovers in a six-point third period.
West Mesquite (29-7) captured its 16th straight win, doing so despite getting outrebounded 42-27. Rainey recorded 13 points and 22 rebounds in her final game for JT.
“Their size inside made it hard on us,” West Mesquite coach Darrin Samuels said. “We played hard and I thought the second half we played tougher. We went on that (16-2) run and that was the game.”
The Lady Lions saw their 10-game win-streak end, but not before notching the school’s first playoff victory in four years. JT played minus starting freshman wing Amia Wickware.
Only Rainey reached double figures for the Lady Lions, who shot 27 percent from the floor and missed on all 10 attempts from 3-point range.
The Lady Lions lose just three seniors: just one starter — Rainey, arguably the best rebounder in school history — plus Danicia Jasper and Khadaysia Young.
JT welcomes back the bulk of its roster, including a handful of players with starting experience in juniors Lee, Nola Jackson and Quaneshia Johnson, along with Wickware and fellow freshman Tameal Jones.
“LaTifah’s been a true leader in every since of the word and she leaves a legacy that will be hard to fill,” Smith said. “Those seniors are great kids and they’ll do well.
“We’re fortunate to have the kids (we have) coming back. We’ll try to carry what we learned this year into next year.”
No. 16 West Mesquite 55, John Tyler 37
Class 4A Region II Area Playoff
At Wills Point High School
John Tyler 8 13 6 10 — 37
West Mesquite 17 9 16 13 — 55
JOHN TYLER — DeShalyn Jones, 0; Tiaka Lee, 6; Tameal Jones, 0; Quaneshia Johnson, 6; Donishia Rouege, 2; Nola Jackson, 7; Khadaysia Young, 3; Kayla Webb, 0; Danicia Jasper, 0; LaTifah Rainey, 13.
WEST MESQUITE — Sha’Georgia Williams, 10; Trynise Knight, 6; Jasmine Dumas, 4; Kierra Davis, 14; Claudia Price, 12; Alexus Bertrand, 5; Regina Garrett, 4.
FIELD GOALS — John Tyler 13-48; West Mesquite 21-60. FREE THROWS — John Tyler 11-27; West Mesquite 11-16. THREE-POINT GOALS — John Tyler 0-10; West Mesquite 2-15 (Knight, Price). REBOUNDS — John Tyler 42 (Rainey, 22); West Mesquite 26 (Dumas 7). ASSISTS — John Tyler 6 (Young 3); West Mesquite 9 (Williams 5). TOTAL FOULS — John Tyler 17; West Mesquite 24. EST. ATT. — 400.
RECORDS — John Tyler 24-9; West Mesquite 29-7.
NEXT UP — John Tyler’s season complete; West Mesquite vs. Sherman in regional quarterfinals.