JACKSONVILLE -- Whitehouse pushed Jacksonville into overtime in their first meeting, and early on Friday night it seemed the rematch would follow a similar script.

But the 10th-ranked Indians turned to their patented full-court press early in the second half, helping the Indians eventually pull away for a 49-35 win that clinched the outright District 16-4A championship.

The Jacksonville (32-0, 9-0) win also kept hope alive for an undefeated regular season the Indians can complete Tuesday night at second-place John Tyler (13-14, 7-2).

"I told the kids it's Senior Night, it's Whitehouse, we're undefeated and we have a chance at a district championship," Jacksonville coach Brent Kelley said. "They don't write stories that good. I told them we had to seize the moment, we had to do our job and take care of business."

Trailing 21-20 at halftime, Jacksonville took control of the game by beginning the second half on a 13-2 run.

Jacksonville's Raybon Riden (left) and Whitehouse's Chris Kunzman battle for a loose ball during their game Friday in Jacksonville. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

"It all started with defensive rebounding," Kelley said. "They got a couple putbacks of offensive rebounds in the first half, so we talked at halftime about one shot, get rebound and let us get out in transition. Fortunately we got some layups and we turned it into an up-and-down game. They had trouble with the press and we were able to build an 10- or 11-point lead."

Daytron Thompson led Jacksonville with 11 points to go along with three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Kedarrius Buckingham added 10 points and 10 boards.

Jacksonville scored the first six poins of the third quarter to go up 26-21. And after Whitehouse's Jake Parker knocked down a field goal at the other end, the Indians' press went to work.

Back-to-back steals from Londedric Taylor and Thompson led to easy transition baskets for Jacksonville, including Thompson's 3-point play that pushed the Indians' lead to 33-23 with 3:20 remaining in the third.

"We really do rely on our press defense in the fullcourt, that's what we get most of our points of off -- turnovers and transition," said Jacksonville senior Dadrian Franklin, who finished the night with eight points, three rebounds and two steals.

Added Whitehouse coach Ryan Tomlin: "We did some things that we talked about all week on the press break in areas not to get to, and we went right to those areas and we were just stubborn."

Patrick Mahomes led Whitehouse (21-9, 5-4) with 13 points, but suffered through an uncharacteristically cold shooting night, making just three of 12 shots from the field. It was indicative of the rest of the team's struggles.

"When you shoot the ball as bad as we did, it all starts to crumble," Tomlin said. "We got so frustrated because we could not get anything to fall. You start pressing and you start doing things you don't normally do. We had wide-open looks and if you shoot the ball that bad, you're not going to beat them ... not at their place."

Kelley agreed with Tomlin's assessment.

"They did get open looks," he said. "They've got shooters everywhere. Any time you help, they can kick to someone that can shoot and that's why they're so dangerous. They hit a few, but luckily they missed a few more than they hit."

Whitehouse closes the regular season Tuesday at home against Nacogdoches.

Jacksonville, meanwhile, travels to the Lions Den to face John Tyler in a rematch of their Jan. 22 classic -- a 50-49 Indians win.

"We're gonna enjoy this one tonight and get back to back work for JT," Kelley said. "It takes the pressure of us having to go in there and win the outright district championship. It's a big game; now the goal is to go 33-0."

Added Franklin: "We're just going to have to match their intensity."


District 16-4A Boys Basketball
At Jacksonville High School
No. 10 Jacksonville 49, Whitehouse 35

Whitehouse              12    9    9    5   --   35
Jacksonville               9   11  19  10   --   49
WHITEHOUSE--Patrick Mahomes, 13; Spencer Shaw, 8; Jaylon Dews, 4; Justin Dunning, 4; Jake Parker, 4; Chris Kunzman, 2.
JACKSONVILLE--Dayton Thompson, 11; Kedarrius Buckingham, 10; Dadrian Franklin, 8; Londedric Taylor, 8; Charles Kendrick, 7; Raybon Riden, 3; Ozzian Clayborne, 2.
RECORDS--Whitehosue 21-9 (5-4); Jacksonville 32-0 (9-0).

Whitehouse's Patrick Mahomes protects the ball under pressure from Jacksonville during their game Friday night in Jacksonville. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)