Tuesday's non-district game between Jacksonville and visiting Lufkin turned into a defensive encounter with the Tribe eventually able to hold off the Panthers to win 51-44 before a near capacity crowd at the JHS Gymnasium.
The Indians, who are ranked No. 21 in this week's TABC/Texas Prep Basketball Magazine Class 4A poll, improved to 3-0 on the year as a result of the win in what was the Tribe's home opener for 2012-13.
Lufkin, who has now lost three of the last four meetings with Jacksonville, slipped to 3-2.
The Indians held the Panthers, who were playing without the services of several players still involved in football, to 17.6-percent (3-of-17) from the field in the first half to take a 25-12 advantage into the dressing room.
“Offensively this one wasn't pretty,” Jacksonville head coach Brent Kelley said. “I thought we got a great defensive effort (Tuesday) though.
“We knew coming in that regardless of how the game unfolded that we would be in for a real dog fight because Lufkin is a team that always plays hard and is well coached.”
In the third stanza it was time for the Panthers' defense to excel.
Lufkin held the Tribe to 2-of-13 (15.4-percent) from the field in the third quarter as the Panthers outscored the Indians 9-6 in the period.
Jacksonville saw what had been a 19-point (31-12) lead midway of the third stanza evaporate to just seven points, 43-36, following a triple off the left wing by Lufkin's Terrance Pinson that came with 2:05 to go in the game.
Pinson led all players with 17 points.
The Tribe then got things rolling once again on the offensive end and ballooned their advantage up to a dozen points with 1:09 left to play, but the Panthers were not ready to fold their tent just yet.
A lightning-fast 6-0 Panther run pulled Lufkin to within just five points of the Tribe following a deuce by Cedvion Harris that came with just over eights seconds to go in the game.
Lufkin was forced to foul the Indians at that point in an effort to get the ball back with Jacksonville's Londedric Taylor icing the win for the Tribe after sinking two shots from the free-throw line with seven ticks showing on the scoreboard which was the finals points in the game.
Taylor's nine-point night was a team best for the Tribe, with Dadrian Franklin adding eight points and Raybon Riden putting in seven.
Ozzian Clayborne and Kedarrius Buckingham gave Jacksonville an offensive boost in the final segment by scoring all of their points in the period — the duo combined to go 5-of-5 from the field, with Clayborne netting six points and Buckingham four.
Claude Franklin also ended the night with six points for the winners.
“We have got to develop a killer instinct,” Kelley said, after his team let an opponent who trailed by double digits get back into the game in the fourth quarter for the second-consecutive game. “I think we have been getting complacent and we have to do a better job of finishing people off.”
Kelley started Dadrian Franklin, Buckingham, and Taylor, all former Indian football players who joined the basketball team late due to the Tribe's playoff game, for the first time this year.
“Our football kids still have not developed their full stamina for basketball yet and that is disrupting our flow somewhat,” Kelley said. “But that will get better with time.”