John Tyler Upsets State-Ranked Marshall, 84-82 + Sends 16-5A To First-Round Sweep Of 15-5A
LONGVIEW -- Inclement weather delayed the Class 5A bi-district playoff between John Tyler and Marshall a day. But most anticipated Mother Nature was prolonging the inevitable.
Marshall entered Wednesday night's postseason opener with only one loss on the year, riding a 20-game winning streak and coming off a dominant 14-0 performance in District 15-5A. John Tyler, meanwhile, finished .500 in 16-5A and had to defeat Nacogdoches in a district playoff last week just to qualify for the playoffs.
Perhaps with one elimination game already under its belt, John Tyler acquired all the experience it needed. The Lions opened up a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter, and had to hold off a furious Marshall comeback attempt late for a stunning 84-82 victory at LeTourneau University's Solheim Arena.
The John Tyler (20-12) win gave 16-5A a clean sweep in the bi-district round, and sets the Lions up with an area-round contest against Mansfield Summit, which defeat Dallas Seagoville, 64-51, also on Wednesday night.
"I think we came out of a tough district -- four points away from taking the second seed and we knocked off the first-place team," said John Tyler coach Cedeno Clark. "They are way more than what their status was, but it was just the hand that we were dealt being the fourth-place team coming into the playoffs. We played a tough team in Marshall, came out victorious and you can't say enough about them as a group."
Marshall, which had not been beaten since Dec. 30 and defeated 15-5A opponents by an average margin of 26 points, finished its season at 31-2.
"They came into the game with one loss and so many people counted us out, and we knew that," said John Tyler senior forward J'Michael Jasper, who finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks. "We didn't want to lose, we wanted to prove people wrong. And we ended up doing it."
John Tyler junior forward Jacob Owens-Bush lead the Lions with 24 points to go with six rebounds, but it was the clutch play of senior guard J'Khari Lewis down the stretch that helped JT pull off the first-round upset.
Lewis finished with 22 points (14 in the fourth quarter) and added three rebounds, three assists and two steals. It was his 3-pointer -- one of four on the night -- and layup that gave JT a 72-60 lead with 6:36 remaining in the fourth.
"My mindset was I don't want to lose, I don't want to home; it's my senior year," Lewis said. "I just wanted to help my team and step up."
And when Marshall surged back to tie the game at 75-75 with 3:12 to play, Lewis was directly responsible for the Lions' next eight points, which pushed John Tyler's lead to 83-78 with 1:04 remaining.
"He's been big all year," Clark said of Lewis. "He's had roles where's been on the bench, became a starter, and we moved him back to the bench because we thought he was more comfortable there. You can't speak enough about the way he's played all year long. He's just outstanding to watch. The guy shot the ball unbelievably, driving to the basket, finishing."
Marshall scored on back-to-back possessions to cut the deficit to 83-82 with eight seconds on the clock. The Mavericks fouled Owens-Bush, who made 1-of-2 foul shots, but Chris Jones' running halfcourt shot at the buzzer was no good.
"It's big because nobody believed we could do it," Lewis said after the win. "People from Tyler, they didn't come, so we had to show them we could do it."
Lions senior point guard Martese Christian finished with 15 points, three rebounds, three steals and six of John Tyler's 16 assists for the game.
Marshall senior guard Jay McKnight led the Mavs with a game-high 25 points, which included four 3-pointers. After he hit a trio of shots from beyond the arc in the first 3:30 of the second half, which gave Marshall a 53-49 lead, Clark sent in defensive specialist, sophomore guard Bryson Smith, to contend with the sharpshooter.
Smith may not have found the scoring column for JT, but McKnight did not make a field goal in the game's final 12:30, and was limited to just four points during that stretch.
"He's one of our more aggressive defenders, and when he's in the game you don't even have to tell him to go in there and shut down a guy," Clark said of Smith, who did register five rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. "He will automatically go and find the leading scorer on that team and shut him down."
Chris Jones added 20 points, while Tiandre Jackson-Young finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in the loss for Marshall. Shimar Jones and Trell Patton chipped in with nine points apiece.
In all, Wednesday's game featured 13 ties and 17 lead changes. But John Tyler finally seized control by going on a 19-5 run at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter to build its 12-point lead -- the largest of the game.
But Marshall went on a 9-0 run, which included a 5-for-5 stretch at the free-throw line, and tied the game at 75-75 on Jackson-Young's 3-point play with 3:12 remaining.
Lewis went back to work for JT on the ensuing possession, driving for a layup and a lead the Lions would not relinquish the rest of the way.
"We've been in these situations before, in close games down the stretch," Clark said. "And like I tell them all the time, at this part of the year it's about who's playing the hardest and who's making the least amount of mistakes. Down the stretch, we made the least amount of mistakes and we continued to play hard; we didn't lose our composure and we finished it out."
John Tyler 84, No. 22 Marshall 82
Boys Class 5A Bi-District Playoff
At LeTourneau's Solheim Arena, Longview
John Tyler 22 21 22 19 -- 84
Marshall 21 20 19 22 -- 82
JOHN TYLER (20-12) -- Jacob Owens-Bush, 24; J'Khari Lewis, 22; Martese Christian, 15; J'Michael Jasper, 15; Patrick Williams, 4; Rodney Bendy, 2; Carlin Gray, 2.
MARSHALL (31-2) -- Jay McKnight, 25; Chris Jones, 20; Tiandre Jackson-Young, 13; Shimar Jones, 9; Trell Patton, 9; Tyler Ray-Leonard, 2; Curtis Kador, 2; Marje Smith, 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- John Tyler: Lewis (4), Christian (2). Marshall: McKnight (4).