TYLER -- It was not a thing of beauty by any stretch, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Tyler Lee Red Raiders found an aesthetically pleasing silver lining -- the District 12-5A standings.

Tyler Lee ground out a 39-35 victory over North Mesquite on Friday night at Lee Varsity Gym, a win that put the Red Raiders (17-7, 4-2) two games clear of their closest challenger for the final playoff spot from 12-5A.

"It's big when you look at the standings," Lee coach Alan Johnston said. "Taking care of business here on our home court to get to 4-2 (in district), and the next closest behind us is 2-4. It's an important early (district) win."

Despite the low-scoring affair, in which leading scorer Taylor Tankersley setled for 10 points (all in the second half), Johnston came away pleased with the way his team competed.

"We're not going to score a lot of points this year," he said. "What we're going to do is control (the pace), get the shots we want to get, but we're also gonna play some pretty dad-gum solid team defense."

Tankersley added seven rebounds and two steals to his scoring effort, while Will Dougherty came through with 10 points and four boards. Tucker Boyd, Luke Derfus and Caleb Johnston each had five points.

The Red Raiders assisted on 10 of their 15 made field goals.

"Will Dougherty had a good game tonight," Johnston said. "I think Caleb dominated the glass. It was just a good team effort. We came up with the plays that we needed to. They got challenged shots and some big rebounds and we played some pretty smart basketball on the back end."

North Mesquite (9-13, 2-4) knocked down six 3-pointers to keep things close throughout, but Lee's low-post defense helped to hold Stallions post Ryan Bradley to just two points.

"We knew that (Bradley) could shoot the ball from the perimeter," Johnston said. "He's a good athlete and early on he hit (a shot), but we told Will Dougherty and Caleb Johnston on the block to switch and force him back to his right shoulder and turn to his left.

"He got frustrated, picked up a silly foul right there before the half and Caleb took a charge on him. I think it was important when he picked up that third foul off that charge, he was pretty much non-existent."

Mike Williams led North Mesquite with 10 points and four steals, while Norman Alexander added nine points and three rebounds.

After being shut out in the first half, Tankersley went to work right away in the third quarter by scoring Lee's first two second-half baskets and assisting on the next, which put Lee up 26-20.

North Mesquite tied it, 26-26, late in the quarter on 3-pointer from Alexander, one of three makes for the point guard from long range.

The two biggest shots of the night came from Tankersley. Midway through the fourth, Johnston's skip pass found a wide open Tankersley on the wing and he drained the 3 to put the Red Raiders up 33-28 with 4:02 remaining.

Less than two minutes later, nursing a one-pont lead, Justin DeSalvo found Tankersley, who sank another 3-pointer that put Lee up 37-33 with 2:12 to go.

The Red Raiders put the game away when precise ball movement negated a North Mesquite defense intent on fouling and allowed DeSalvo an easy layup underneath the basket with 27 seconds remaining.

Lee continues its season Tuesday at Rockwall.


District 12-5A Boys
Tyler Lee 39, North Mesquite 35
At Lee Varsity Gym, Tyler

North Mesquite          10    8    8    9   --   35
Tyler Lee                     6   14   8   11   --  39
NORTH MESQUITE--Mike Williams, 10; Norman Alexander, 9; Stevin Moses, 5; Driek Whitted, 4; Markus Alonzo, 3; Ryan Bradley, 2; Leslie Davis, 2.
TYLER LEE--Will Dougherty, 10; Taylor Tankersley, 10; Tucker Boyd, 5; Luke Derfus, 5; Caleb Johnston, 5; Justin DeSalvo, 4.
RECORDS--North Mesquite 9-13 (2-4); Tyler Lee 17-7 (4-2).