John Tyler Shuts Down Bullard For Patriot Classic Championship Win
TYLER -- Tameal Jones gave her future college coaches something to look forward to Wednesday at UT-Tyler's Herrington Patriot Center.
With 10 points, several passes to set up scores in transition and simply setting the game's tempo from her guard spot, Jones sealed the tournament's most valuable player award in John Tyler's 57-26 win against Bullard on what will be her home court this time next season.
"It was great," Jones said. "To have some of my future teammates cheering me on was great."
As a team, the Lady Lions (20-3) held Bullard to five scores from the field. The Lady Panthers (19-5) finished the game with a 26.3 shooting percentage.
It wasn't an awful day for Bullard, the percentage is pretty average for a high school team, but the squad was put into a major bind where each attempt was critical.
JT, the No. 12 team in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' Class 5A poll, pressed hard early and set up quite a few obstacles once the Lady Panthers brought the ball past midcourt all game long. Its defense reduced the Lady Panthers to 19 shots with 16 clean turnovers out of the defensive end, including six steals. Furthermore, the Lady Lions got three blocks from Amia Wickware down low.
Bullard, the No. 16 team state-wide in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' Class 4A poll, has no secrets. The offense is routed through junior Lexi Kirgan.
The key forward was held to six points on the floor and converted two of eight free throws.
"I think our kids did a good job of preventing her from getting the ball," Lady Lions' head coach Mike Smith said. "That makes a difference in their offense because everything they do is geared around Lexi, which it should be. She does a great job. They have a great team and they're very well-coached."
Bullard worked out to a 5-2 lead on a three-point play from Kristen Chamberlain and Kirgan layup. The Lady Lions responded with a 16-5 run to close the first quarter, up 18-10 despite putting the opposition in the bonus with 1:24 to play in the frame.
The lead expanded to 15 points at the break and 20 points to begin the fourth quarter.
Bullard scored five points in the second half, three of those on free throws.
Kirgan made the Patriot Classic's all-tournament team for Bullard. Lady Lions sophomore Alyssa Mayfield and junior Ashton Beal joined Jones on the ceremonial team.
Wednesday's victory was the Lady Lions' second tournament win of the season. They won the Great East Texas Shootout with a 58-41 win against Peaster on Dec. 13 in Brownsboro.
From there, the team briefly entered league mode with wins against Lufkin and Nacogdoches in District 16-5A before the winter break.
"I'm really proud of the girls," Smith said. "They played hard. We had a great Christmas. We made a great run in the Brownsboro tournament the week before we got out for Christmas, had two tough district games we were able to win. When you are able to come out of Christmas and are able to do that, it's wonderful."
JT will only play district opponents through the remainder of the regular season. The run begins Tuesday with a home game against Whitehouse.
Bullard will host Henderson at 5 p.m. Friday before jumping into its District 16-4A schedule.
"We've got to pick up better and stay in position better," Smith said. "We got in foul trouble in the first half and kept them in the game because we kept fouling them. They had 16 free throws at the half. We've got to keep them off the line and do a better job of staying out of foul trouble."
John Tyler 57, Bullard 26
2014 Macy Chenevert Patriot Classic Winners' Bracket Championship
At Herrington Patriot Center, Tyler
Bullard 10 11 3 2 -- 26
John Tyler 18 16 8 15 -- 57
Bullard -- Kristen Chamberlain 8; Lexi Kirgan 8; Deanna Howard 4; Hannah Lloyd 2; Maddy Slayter 2; Lauren Zachry 2.
John Tyler -- Ashtyn Beal 14; Alyssa Mayfield 11; Tameal Jones 10; Shakendra Tilley 7; Destani Whitehead 7; Amia Wickware 7; Shakala Johnson 1.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Bullard: None. John Tyler: Beal, Jones, Mayfield, Wickware.