JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville Indians gained appointment as current chiefs of the District 16-4A boys’ basketball race with a clutch victory over the league’s one-time supreme team.
The undefeated and 12th-ranked Indians increased their win-streak to 27 games, roaring back from 13 points down in the third period to capture a thrilling 50-49 win over two-time defending district champion John Tyler in front of a standing-room-only crowd of more than 800 Tuesday night.
John Tyler’s Keaunte Humber heaved up a contested 18-footer that dropped short as time expired to leave the Lions on the short end of a showdown pitting arguably the top teams in East Texas.
Jacksonville (27-0, 4-0 in 16-4A) rallied back thanks to the hot hands of Raybon Riden, who scored a game-high 16 points, and the defense of Dadrian Franklin, who totaled seven blocked shots, five rebounds and two steals.
Riden rushed down the court for a breakaway layup off a steal before Franklin blocked John Tyler’s Tyus Bowser inside, leading to the go-ahead bucket the other way on a putback by Kedarius Buckingham at the 1:17 mark. Franklin followed by taking a charge on Bowser, and Londedric Taylor capped an 8-0 run with two free throws for a 50-47 Jacksonville advantage with 30 seconds left.
The Jacksonville fans stormed the court after the Indians notched their first district win in five tries against John Tyler (8-14, 2-2).
“We just had to go out there and hustle and get our transition buckets,” Franklin said. “It was a big game because they always beat us in district. This time we were home and we beat them.”
JT sliced the lead to one point (50-49) on a short jumper from Fred Ross and received a chance to go back in front after Jacksonville missed the front end of a one-and-one with 0:17 showing.
The Jacksonville defense tightened up after a timeout, leading to an off-balanced attempt by Humber while multiple defenders surrounded Bowser.
JT scored the first eight points of the third period, going ahead 33-20 on a layup by Ross, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
The majority of JT’s damage occurred at the free throw line, where the Lions sunk 15 of 18 shots (83 percent).
Jacksonville adjusted its defense in the second half, allowing only two free throw attempts by the Lions, both coming on and-one plays by Bowser to make it 42-36, and another by Greg Ward to give JT a 47-42 cushion with 2:33 to go.
The Lions shot 31 percent for the game and missed all eight attempts from long range. JT went 0-for-19 from 3-point range in a loss to Corsicana.
“We talked about keeping them off the line,” Jacksonville coach Brent Kelley said. “We talked about showing a lot of heart. Finally we were getting stops.”
The Jacksonville offense improved as the game wore on. Jacksonville charted 14 points over the final 4:07. Jacksonville needed 10 minutes to get its first 14 points, and another 10:44 to reach the 28-point plateau.
Isaac Warren bucketed a team-high 12 points for JT, and Bowser posted a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
“John Tyler is so good, even when they miss you have to block them out,” said Kelley, whose team plays at JT in the regular season finale on Feb. 12 at the Lions Den. “At times we didn’t do that, but when we did that in the third and fourth quarter it allowed us to get back in it. We spread them out a little bit and got some mismatches in the post.
“We’ve got so much respect for their program and Coach (Cedeno) Clark. It’s a great win for us. It was a great game, a great atmosphere. I think it’s the best rivalry in East Texas. Those are the games you want to coach in and play in.”
Jacksonville 50, John Tyler 49
John Tyler 15 10 12 12—49
Jacksonville12 8 12 18— 50
JOHN TYLER — Darion Flowers, 2; Greg Ward, 8; Isaac Warren, 12; Fred Ross, 11; Elliott Hart, 4; Keaunte Humber, 2; Tyus Bowser, 10. FG 17-55 FT 15-18.
JACKSONVILLE — Dadrian Franklin, 4; Daytron Franklin, 12; Kedarius Buckingham, 12; Londedrick Taylor, 2; Kevin Lybrand, 4; Raybon Riden, 16. FG 22-51 FT 5-10.
Three-Point Goals — JT 0-8, Jacksonville 1-10 (Riden). Fouled Out — Ward. Rebounds — JT 40 (Bowser 15), Jacksonville 29 (Buckingham 9). Assists — JT 7 (Caldwell, Ross 2), Jacksonville 11 (Franklin 4). Total Fouls — JT 16, Jacksonville 15.
RECORDS — John Tyler 8-14 (2-2); Jacksonville 27-0 (4-0).
NEXT UP — Lindale at John Tyler, Friday; Jacksonville at Whitehouse, Friday.