John Tyler started strong and finished with a bang at the free throw line and handed Jacksonville its first District 16-4A loss, after downing the Tribe, 61-53, at the Lions Den in Tyler Tuesday evening.
The Indians (18-7, 3-1 16-4A), the Lions (11-8, 3-1) and Whitehouse, who are also 3-1 in league games, are in a three-way tie for first in the loop race, with Jacksonville set to entertain Whitehouse at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Lions seemed determined to put the Tribe in catch-up mode from the opening tip.
John Tyler quickly cultivated an 18-8 advantage with 2:10 to play in the first frame.
The Lions led 18-10 after one segment, before expanding the margin to 29-19 at halftime.
Jacksonville, who lost for the first time since Dec. 21, played well in the second half, which has become the norm for the Mark Alexander-coached squad, and outscored the Lions 34-32 in the final two periods of action.
Free throws were huge in the game, with John Tyler connecting at a 74.2-percent (23 of 31) rate, while the Tribesmen went to the line 12 times and made only four of them (33.3-percent).
The Lions went to the charity stripe 16 times in the final eight minutes of play.
Kevron Jackson wound up with 16 points to lead the Lions in scoring.
Jacksonville was ignited by Raybon Riden and Datavion Thacker, who knocked in 17 and 15 points apiece.
Daytron Thompson put in seven, followed by Claude Franklin and Shawn Ragsdale with four each.
Completing the scoring for the Tribe were Ty Lawson, Mason McCormick and Carter McCown, who added two points apiece.
JUNIOR VARSITY — Jacksonville lost a nail biter against the Lions, falling 58-56. The Tribe led 48-46 heading into the fourth stanza, but the Lions bounced back and outscored the Indians, 12-8, in the fourth. De'vun Hamilton tallied 26 points for the Indians, with Dixon Baxter contributing eight.
FRESHMEN — John Tyler made it a clean sweep with the Lions capturing the 9th-grade game, 72-33.