LINDALE -- Sulphur Springs appeared to have a puncher's chance against John Tyler in Monday's Class 5A bi-district game with three takeaways and a 5-0 lead through the first two minutes.

But the Ladycats' hope of pulling an upset against the No. 15 team in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' 5A poll and District 16-5A champion evaporated quickly. JT rallied from the opening deficit for a 26-6 lead after a quarter and cruised to an 81-35 win on a neutral floor in Lindale.

The Lady Lions avenged a first-round loss to Mansfiled Lake Ridge last season, secured a 30-win season and set up a date with Red Oak in the area round of the playoffs in one fell swoop.

"I thought the effort was great," JT head coach Mike Smith said. "I thought we played well together. I thought we moved the ball around really well. We kept attacking the basket and our kids just hustled so well. We got all the loose balls. I'm proud of them."

John Tyler's Amia Wickware goes up for a layup off a steal from Kaleon Grant in the first quarter against Sulphur Springs (Mark Martin,

Senior forward Amia Wickware broke the team's scoreless streak with a 3-pointer two minutes into the game.

From there, the Lady Lions began to press. And press.

Through the next six minutes, JT (30-4) forced 14 turnovers to fuel a 26-1 run. Sulphur Springs (16-14) used three timeouts in attempts to stop the unraveling to no avail.

The Lady Lions started the second period on an 8-2 run to cap a larger 34-3 run over eight minutes.

Sulphur Springs -- the fourth-place team from District 15-5A -- regained some composure late in the half but trailed 44-22 at the break.

JT outscored the Ladycats 14-2 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach, 58-24. Smith pulled all final remnants of the primary rotation and called off the press midway through the final period.

The group, by and large, forced 35 Sulphur Springs turnovers during its 28 minutes of action.

"We had a lot of people in and out," Smith said. "We didn't put them in to platoon them like we have in the past, we just tried to give everybody a couple of minutes of rest. We're in good enough shape that with a couple of minutes left they can come back in 100 percent. As long as we can do that and we're fortunate to have great kids on the bench -- We did a great job."

Wickware led four Lady Lions in double digits with 21 points and added three steals, three rebounds and a block despite sitting for seven minutes in the first half with three fouls. She scored 11 points through the game's first nine minutes.

Alyssa Mayfield finished with a team second-best 15 points and had 11 rebounds for a double-double. Ashtyn Beal recorded five steals in addition to 13 points. Shakendra Tilley rounded out the Lady Lions' top performers with 11 points.

"It's my senior year," Wickware said. "I want to come out and play with everything I have knowing that every game I'm playing could be my last in high school. I just play and give my team my all."

Sophomore Daieyshia Pruitt and freshman Kaylee Jefferson accounted for the bulk of Sulphur Springs' scoring with 12 points each. They will return to a Ladycats program graduating just three of 11 players.

Smith said his team made an agreement with Red Oak to play Friday in Forney at either Forney High School or North Forney High School. A specific time and location should be announced Tuesday.

Red Oak, the third place team from District 14-5A, defeated Dallas Molina 62-32 shortly after JT clinched its spot in the second round.

"You've got to get better for the next game," Smith said. "Every time we play, the team in the next game will be a better team."

John Tyler's Alyssa Mayfield gets off a contest shot from Sulphur Springs' Kaylee Jefferson in the two teams' bi-district playoff game. Mayfield scored 15 points in the Lady Lions' win. (Mark Martin,

No. 15 John Tyler 81, Sulphur Springs 35

Class 5A Bi-District Playoff Game
At Lindale High School, Lindale

John Tyler                       26    18     14    23    --    81
Sulphur Springs                6    16       2    11    --    35

JOHN TYLER (30-4)  -- Amia Wickware 21; Alyssa Mayfield 15; Ashtyn Beal 13; Shakendra Tilley 11; Tameal Jones 8; Destani Whitehead 7; Kaleon Grant 5.
SULPHUR SPRINGS (16-14) -- Kaylee Jefferson 12; Daieyshia Pruitt 12; Tori Moore 7; Chrissalyn Person 3; Sheretta Hill 1.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- John Tyler: Beal (2), Wickware (2), Jones. Sulphur Springs: Person, Pruitt.