TYLER -- It was a day John Tyler's Isaac Warren will always remember.

Warren made headlines hours before an important District 16-5A basketball game against Nacogdoches with the announcement he plans to play Northwestern State football as a defensive back upon graduation. He then capped Tuesday with eight points in a 48-41 against the league's frontrunner before a large crowd and the complete Big Blue Band.

"Getting this win sends the message that the rest of the district better get ready for John Tyler," Warren, a forward, said. "The first time we played Nacogdoches, we weren't John Tyler. But now we're going back to the 'Cujo' style."

It was a big win.

The Lions (16-9, 4-3) worked to a .500 record at the midway mark of the league schedule, including a district-opening loss to the Dragons and back-to-back losses against Lindale and Lufkin last week. The Lufkin loss came in double overtime.

Nacogdoches (18-6, 5-2) isn't a slouch by any stretch of the imagination.

Not only did the Dragons enter the game in first place within the district, De'Quan Batiste is one of the most productive players in the league. Sharpshooter Tyler Underwood, the son of Stephen F. Austin men's basketball head coach Brad Underwood, is an asset any team would trade for. The supporting cast has proven it can go toe-to-toe with the best East Texas has to offer.

"You can't say enough for what these kids did tonight," JT head coach Cedeno Clark said. "That team averages somewhere around the mid-60s to 70 points a night."

It was a close game at halftime after a forgettable second quarter for both teams. After a 12-12 tie through the first quarter, Warren broke a four-minute combined scoring slump and the Lions took a 16-14 lead to the locker room.

Batiste tied the game for Nacogdoches with a hard drive on the first possession of the third quarter.

Then JT junior forward Jacob Owens-Bush went on a 6-2 solo run as part of a larger 12-2 stretch for the Lions. He finished the game with a team-best 16 points.

Warren added two baskets during the spree to help give the team a lead it never fully relinquished. Sophomore guard Bryson Smith rounded out the team's top performers with 10 points

Nacogdoches trailed by 11 points, 33-22, at the end of the third quarter. However, Batiste and Tyler Underwood combined for an 11-2 run to draw within 35-33 with 4:38 to play on the way to 19 and 15 points, respectively.

Owens-Bush and company dug in and held the Dragons to five free throws in the final minutes while scoring 13 more points on the offensive end.

Tyler Underwood closed scoring with his fifth and final made 3-point shot. Nacogdoches did not attempt to foul on the Lions' final possession.

"It feels very good," Owens-Bush said. "We've just got to keep working and need a solid mindset. It's been up-and-down all season. We hit a down slope in district, so it felt good to get the win against a good team."

The Dragons will try to begin another district run Friday at home against a Lufkin team still alive and well in the playoff hunt. Lindale defeated Whitehouse on Tuesday to reclaim a share of first place in the league.

JT will visit Whitehouse on Friday.

Warren only has six more guaranteed basketball games remaining in his career.

"It's been a great day for me," Warren said. "Committing to Northwestern State was tremendous because I love that school and love the campus. They came down to see the game today. I really appreciate that. I feel comfortable there. It feels like home. We're going to win a championship together. Today was just a blessed day for me."

With that, Warren left the floor and got a warm reception from half the Northwestern State coaching staff.

John Tyler 48, Nacogdoches 41

District 16-5A Boys Basketball
At The Lions' Den, Tyler

Nacogdoches                     12      2      8    19    --    41
John Tyler                           12      4    17    15    --    58
NACOGDOCHES (18-6, 5-2) -- De'Quan Batiste 19; Tyler Underwood 15; Tucker White 5; Cameron Gadison 2.
John Tyler (16-9, 4-3) -- Jacob Owens-Bush 16; Bryson Smith 10; Isaac Warren 8; Patrick Williams 5; Rodney Bendy 3; Ja'Khari Lewis 2; GaQuay Miller 2; Tavian Teal 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Nacogdoches: Underwood (5). John Tyler: None.