WHITEHOUSE — John Tyler coach Cedeno Clark urged his team to start fast and the Lions surged ahead early as requested to set a pace Whitehouse never matched.
Four players produced double-digit scoring nights and JT positioned itself for the inside track for second place after running away from Whitehouse for a convincing 75-60 win.
The Lions led all but 62 seconds, and by as many as 27 points as they moved a game in front of Whitehouse in the District 16-4A standings with Friday's night triumph at Wildcat Arena.
Junior guard Jordan Caldwell sparked JT with 16 points off the bench. The senior duo of Tyus Bowser and Fred Ross finished with 13 points each and senior guard Greg Ward scored a dozen as JT completed a season sweep over Whitehouse. Jacksonville leads the district with a 7-0 mark, followed by JT at 5-2 and Whitehouse at 4-3.
"It's huge," first-year JT coach Cedeno Clark said of the victory, which clinched a playoff berth. "As soon as the lights came on, they were ready to go."
The Lions outscored the Wildcats 42-12 on points inside the paint, with most of Whitehouse's production coming at the free throw line and from long range. The defensive end impressed Clark the most, where JT held Whitehouse to 29-percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. JT outscored Whitehouse 14-2 on fastbreak points.
"We challenged the kids the last couple days in practice to get after it on the defensive end," said Clark, who styled a business suit with fashionable tennis shoes while working the sidelines. "They came out and set the tone in doing that. We mixed the defenses up and that was key to us keeping the lead."
JT (11-14) created space starting with a 3-pointer from Bowser from the right wing midway through the first to ignite a 13-0 run. Darion Flowers scored on a putback, Bowser hit a shot off a feed from Ward, and Ross ripped the ball and scored in transition for a 15-5 advantage. Bowser drove inside for two more before Elliott Hart delivered a breakaway layup following a steal for a 19-5 advantage.
Caldwell canned a 3-pointer moments later to give JT a 22-6 lead, still in the first quarter.
Whitehouse (20-8) trailed by double-digits the final 26 minutes-plus. Patrick Mahomes netted a game-high 20 points for Whitehouse.
JT claimed its biggest lead of the night after opening the fourth period with eight straight, the first four from Ward, who scored on two free throws and off an outlet pass from Bowser. Bowser located Isaac Warren for a transition hoop before Ward ended the run with two technical free throws for a 64-37 disparity, coming after Whitehouse guard Jake Parker threw a forearm at Warren. Afterward, Parker walked toward Warren as he headed in the opposite direction with his back turned.
The JT bench earned a technical in the aftermath. After tensions calmed, Whitehouse shaved 12 points off the lead during garbage time.
Spencer Shaw and Justin Dunning scored 12 points apiece for Whitehouse. Ten different players found the nets for the Lions.
"It was good team effort," said Clark, whose squad shot 56 percent in the victory. "That's what we're looking to do, build off this win."
John Tyler 75, Whitehouse 60
John Tyler 22 15 19 19 - 75
Whitehouse 8 10 19 23 - 60
JOHN TYLER - Darion Flowers, 4; Greg Ward, 12; Jordan Caldwell, 16; Isaac Warren, 7; Fred Ross, 13; Rodney Bendy, 2; Elliott Hart, 2; Keaunte Humber, 4; Javonte Tramble, 2; Tyus Bowser, 13. FG 32-57 FT 8-15.
WHITEHOUSE - Jacob Lundmark, 2; Patrick Mahomes, 20; Jaylon Dews, 3; Jake Parker, 2; Ty Stickly, 9; Spencer Shaw, 12; Justin Dunning, 12. FG 18-63 FT 17-26.
Three-Point Goals - John Tyler 3-5 (Caldwell 2, Bowser), Whitehouse 7-22 (Stickly 3, Mahomes 2, Shaw 2). Rebounds - John Tyler 39 (Ross, Bendy 7), Whitehouse 38 (Mahomes 8). Assists - John Tyler 16 (Ward 5), Whitehouse 6 (Dews, Chris Kuzman 3). Total Fouls - John Tyler 17, Whitehouse 13.
RECORDS - John Tyler 11-14 (5-2), Whitehouse 20-8 (4-3).
NEXT UP - Corsicana at John Tyler, 7:45 p.m. Tuesday.