[By Johnny Green, Special to ETSN.fm]

TEXARKANA — John Tyler's District 16-4A opener is not until next week, but head coach Cedeno Clark decided to treat Friday's non-district finale at Texas High's Tiger Center as a district game.

"I've put it in the kids' minds that this was our first district game, and we didn't want to start district play 0-1," Clark said after the Lions' knocked off Texas High 93-86 in overtime. "So this was our mindset, and I'm just glad they fought to the end and pulled out the victory."

JT had to fight to the end.

Texas High, playing its third game in four days, twice built leads of 13 points in the third quarter after leading 43-37 at halftime. But the Lions rallied behind the scoring of reserve Ken'Darrian Johnson to trim the deficit to 62-59 by the end of the third period.

The Lions did it by dominating the glass, outrebounding Texas High 34-18 in the second half and 42-35 overall, and converting 24 of 32 free-throw attempts to 27 of 41 for the Tigers (7-6).

Texas High missed 9 of 21 foul shots in the fourth quarter when the game was tied three times and the lead changed hands seven times. Both teams had chances to win in regulation, but a John Tyler layup attempt hit the bottom of the backboard and careened out of bounds with five seconds left, and Texas High missed a potential buzzer-beater from the corner.

Texas High coach Jacob Skinner blamed the missed free throws and lack of rebounding partially on fatigue, but the Tigers still had enough in the tank to take a pair of leads in overtime. A three-pointer by Darion Kidd, who had four of the long shots and a team-high 25 points, made it 84-83 with 2:54 to play, and Jamal Ray's conventional 3-point play with 2:13 to go expanded the lead to 87-84.

But the Tigers would not score again, missing a pair of long three-point attempts in the final 30 seconds after John Tyler (8-7) took the lead for good on a steal by Darren Farmer following two free throws by Keaunte Humber. Johnson, who led all scorers with 31 points off the bench, scored on a drive with 39 seconds left before Jordan Caldwell finished the scoring by converting 3 of 4 free throws in the final 22 seconds.

Outrebounded 17-8 in the first half, the Lions went to a bigger lineup in the third and fourth quarters.

"Rebounding was a point of emphasis for us at halftime," Clark said. "I changed the lineup a little bit to go big so we could get more rebounds and hold Texas High to one shot. We didn't rebound well in the first half, but we stressed at halftime to come out and do a better job."

The Lions also began to take advantage of their superior height.

"We focused more on feeding the ball into the post, which was another of our issues going into the game," Clark said. "That really worked for us and was an indication that we're gridning and looking for our postmen, which is what we want to do heading into district play."

Johnson headed five Lions in double figures. Humber had 17, Caldwell 13 and Rodney Bendy and Kevron Jackson 12 each, although both fouled out late in the game. Bendy led all rebounders with nine.

Ray followed Kidd with 21 points for Texas High. Success Blevins added 12.

Both teams are off Tuesday before playing district openers Friday -- John Tyler hosts Nacogdoches and Texas High visits Pine Tree.


John Tyler 93, Texas High 86 (OT)

Tiger Center, Texarkana


John Tyler -- 19 18 22 20 14 -- 93
Texas High -- 18 25 19 17 8 -- 86

John Tyler -- Caldwell 5 3-4 13, Warren 0 1-2 1, Williams 2 0-0 4, Bendy 5 2-3 12, Humber 7 3-4 17, K. Jackson 5 2-2 12, Farmer 1 1-2 3, Johnson 9 12-15 31, TOTALS 33 24-32 93
Texas High -- Willis 1 2-2 5, Davis 1 0-0 2, Ray 6 9-14 21, Kidd 8 5-7 25, Anderson 1 2-4 4, T. Jackson 4 1-1 9, Bunn 3 0-0 7, James 1 0-0 2,Blevins 2 8-13 12, TOTALS 27 27-41 87.
Three-pointers -- JT: Johnson; THS: Kidd 4, Bunn.
Team fouls -- John Tyler 28, Texas High 20.
Fouled out -- Bendy, K. Jackson. Technical foul -- Ray.