Lions picked to repeat as 16-4A hoops champs


Their record says one thing, their intentions and the district predictions another.

The John Tyler boys bring a disappointing 6-12 mark into the start of District 16-4A play. On the heels of consecutive district titles, however, the Lions plan to be in the hunt for a title.

JT went 26-2 in winning district titles the past two seasons. Furthermore, the writers who cover District 16-4A pegged JT as favorites ahead of unbeaten and 12th-ranked Jacksonville (23-0), Whitehouse (16-5), Corsicana (18-4), Nacogdoches (11-7) and Lindale (7-10), respectively. 

The Lions open district with Nacogdoches tonight, Whitehouse plays host to Corsicana and Lindale meets Jacksonville. All district games will be doubleheaders, starting with girls action (6:30 p.m.) and followed by the boys (8 p.m.). 

JT, which started 3-11, hit its highest gear yet in late December, winning three straight games to claim its bracket in the Wagstaff Holiday Classic.

Tyus Bowser, a 6-3 senior, leads the Lions in scoring since joining the team after helping the football team reach the Class 4A Division I state semifinals. Three other key two-sport standouts who started the previous two seasons for the Lions — Darion Flowers, Fred Ross and Greg Ward — recently added firepower for the Lions.

Bowser now holds a Division I basketball offer from Oral Roberts to go along with multiple in football. Ross committed to Oklahoma State and Ward pledged his services to Houston — both for football — last summer. Flowers figures to sign with a Division I football program on National Signing Day next month as well.

“I know we’re going to have a big bull’s-eye on our back, being the defending district champion,” first-year JT head coach Cedeno Clark said. “We’re full-fledged right now with the kids that won for it last year. I feel like we’re a lot better than our record indicates.”

GIRLS

No. 18 Lindale (17-4, 2-0 in 16-4A) and Nacogdoches (16-8, 2-0) share the district lead after one week of play. JT (16-9, 1-1) and Jacksonville (14-11, 1-1) share the third spot, with Corsicana (14-11, 0-2) and Whitehouse (10-8, 0-2) still looking for their first district wins.

JT, which is coming off a 43-37 win over Jacksonville, lost at Nacogdoches last year. The Lady Dragons are led by Charity Page, a 6-0 senior post who scored 21 points in Nacogdoches’ district-opening win over Corsicana.

“This is a swing point,” Lady Lions coach Mike Smith said. “We hadn’t won (in Nacogdoches) in three years and they’re really good.”

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District 16-4A Boys Media Basketball Poll

Rank School Points Record

1. John Tyler23 (3) 6-12

2. Jacksonville 21 (1) 23-0

3. Whitehouse 15 16-5

4. Corsicana12 18-4

5. Nacogdoches9 11-7

6. Lindale 4 7-10

Voters: Jay Neal, Jacksonville Daily Progress; Brandon Ogden, Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel; Todd Wills, Corsicana Daily Sun; Harold Wilson, Tyler Morning Telegraph. Points were awarded for: first (six), second (five), third (four), fourth (three), fifth (two), sixth (one). () — First-place votes