TYLER -- One game stood between No. 10 Jacksonville and a perfect regular season.

One team kept the Indians from it.

John Tyler used an aggressive defense and timely shooting down the stretch to defeat Jacksonville, 54-48, Tuesday night in both teams' regular-season finale in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Lions Den.

The outcome had no bearing on playoff positioning as Jacksonville (32-1, 9-1), which defeated John Tyler 50-49 in their first meeting, wrapped up the District 16-4A title last week.

Jacksonville's Daytron Thompson pulls down a rebound against John Tyler during their game Tuesday night in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

"This is the best possible warm-up game we could have for the playoffs," said Jacksonville coach Brent Kelley. "It might be a blessing in disguise, and we'll get them refocused and ready to play our first-round game."

John Tyler (14-14, 8-2), meanwhile, will enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak.

"We always want to take it one game at a time, that's the whole concept," John Tyler coach Cedeno Clark said. "We weren't looking at this as a big game, it was just another game John Tyler basketball has to win. But beating a top-10 team in the state of Texas really let us know who we are."

The game was close throughout with neither team grabbing a lead of more than five points until the closing moments.

John Tyler's Jordan Caldwell drained a huge 3-pointer to give the Lions a 51-47 lead with 1:41 remaining. And after a Jacksonville turnover, JT's Tyus Bowser added to the lead by knocking down 3 of 4 free throws, which put the Lions ahead 54-47 with 1:05 to go.

Bowser led John Tyler with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Caldwell came off the bench to finish with 11 points, four boards and three steals. In addition to his big 3-pointer in the fourth, he gave the Lions their only lead of the third quarter, 38-37, with back-to-back transition buckets.

Jacksonville's Daytron Thompson is defended by John Tyler's Tyus Bowser during their game Tuesday in Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

"You can't say enough about what Caldwell has done in district play," Clark said. "He's taken a back seat, not starting since (the football players) came in, but he kept his composure the whole time. And it was huge, he's been playing some outstanding basketball."

Fred Ross added 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists for John Tyler.

Dadrian Franklin led Jacksonville with 12 points, six rebounds, two assists and four blocks. Daytron Thompson added 11 points, four boards and three assists, while Kedarrius Buckingham had nine points and eight rebounds.

"We went through stretches where we turned it over, which led to transition buckets for them," Kelley said. "We were terrible from the free-throw line. And we didn't make them play the basketball. We let them get out in transition and get easy buckets. We just didn't execute down the stretch, and to win close games like that you've got to do it and we didn't do it."

Jacksonville's press defense did little to stop John Tyler in the opening quarter, as the Lions jumped out to an 18-13 lead.

"Anytime you bring up three or four guys to press, you're always going to have some people (open)," Clark said. "The guys did an outstanding job of looking up the floor, they saw some open guys and we got some easy buckets, which is what you do against their press."

The Indans then went on a 7-0 run to go in front, 20-18, early in the second quarter. The game stayed close from that point on with neither team building a lead of more than four points until the Lions pulled away for the win.

"More than anything, we always talk about character," Clark said. "I wanted the guys to make sure they didn't jump around the floor, but to let them know that we've been in this position before. I wanted them to line up, shaking the opposing team's hands and go celebrate in the locker room."

Jacksonville will face either Lancaster or Mansfield Lake Ridge next week in the bi-district round of the playoffs, while John Tyler will face Mansfield Summit.


District 16-4A Boys Basketball
At Lions Den, Tyler
John Tyler 54, No. 10 Jacksonville 48

Jacksonville             15   13    9   11   --   48
John Tyler                18    9    11  16   --   54
JACKSONVILLE--Dadrian Franklin, 12; Daytron Thompson, 11; Kedarrius Buckingham, 9; Raybon Riden, 8; Ozzian Clayborne, 4; Londedric Taylor, 3; Kevin Lybrand, 1.
JOHN TYLER--Tyus Bowser, 16; Jordan Caldwell, 11; Fred Ross, 10; Greg Ward, 8; Darion Flowers, 6; William Vaughn, 2; Elliot Hart, 1.
RECORDS--Jacksonville 32-1 (9-1); John Tyler 14-14 (8-2).

There was a standing-room-only crowd on hand at the Lions Den on Tuesday night for the regular-season finale between No. 10 Jacksonville and John Tyler. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)