The Tyner Rams had to depend on a last-second shot to beat Central by a point the first time these two teams played a few weeks ago, but there was no late-game miracle needed for the Rams Monday night at Central.
Racing to a 14-2 lead in the opening three minutes of the game, the Rams used that fast start as the catalyst as they won by game by a 68-56 final.
With the win, Tyner wins the District 6-AA regular-season championship with a perfect 12-0 record as they improved to 19-3 overall. All three of Tyner's losses were to out of town teams.
"This was a tough game as Central showed early in the second half that they weren't giving up," said Tyner coach Gerald Harris.
"I thought we had a chance to blow it open on a couple of occasions, but we couldn't. We got away from what we do best and allowed Central to get back in it, but we made some big plays at the end. I'm really proud of these guys as I can't remember the last time a team went undefeated in this district.
"Now it all starts over, so there's not much time to enjoy this," Harris added, noting that Monday's victory was Tyner's seventh in a row after losing twice in the Scenic City Showcase at East Hamilton in mid-January.
Central had a big win at home on Saturday when the Purple Pounders knocked off Boyd-Buchanan for the second time this season. Coach Rick Rogers knew that his team would be off after not practicing on Sunday and he was right.
"I expected a flat start after not practicing yesterday, but you can't afford to spot a team like Tyner 10 points and expect to win," Rogers explained after his team had fallen to 9-6 overall and 6-6 in 6-AA.
"We fought back and I'm proud that we never gave up, but they're just too good to play like that and expect to win. We had a streak where we couldn't hit a layup or a free throw and you can't afford that a home. But it was fun game and I fully expect to see them again in the upcoming tournament.
"My hat's off to Tyner. They have a fine basketball team with talented individuals at every position," Rogers praised.
Daaron Mastin got the Rams off and running with back-to-back 3s in the first 90 seconds of the game. DeVante Jones added a three-point play the old-fashioned way before Kevin Cameron sank a free throw and Jones scored again on a nice inside move.
Sadik Spence converted a layup with 4:51 to play in the first as Tyner's lead stretched to 14-2 and that was basically the difference in the game.
Ryan Montgomery's slam at the buzzer off an inbounds play allowed Central to get within 22-13 when the first quarter ended.
Spence scored on another layup to start the second stanza before Central went on a 6-0 run to get within 24-18 with 5:59 to play in the half. Tyner then went on a 12-3 run the rest of the way for a comfortable 36-21 lead at intermission.
The biggest lead of the game for the Rams came midway through the third quarter when Spence scored on a nice drive down the lane to give his team a 42-23 lead. Tyner then sank five of six free throws in the final minute for a 51-37 lead with one quarter remaining.
While the Pounders were able to get within six in the first half, the closest they could get in the second half was eight points and that came on a short bank shot by Tre Tiller with 3:50 to play, cutting Tyner's lead to 60-52.
The Rams then responded with six straight points in the next two minutes to put the game out of reach.
Spence and Jones both scored 16 points to lead Tyner while Cameron was also in double figures with 14. Mastin finished with nine points and Dequan Hardwick eight.
Rodney Benford came off the bench to score 14 points for Central while Montgomery and Tre Tiller were also in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Both teams had 25 rebounds with Alex Watkins grabbing nine for Tyner and Montgomery six for Central.
CENTRAL GIRLS 54, TYNER 21: The Lady Pounders were never really threatened as they raced to a 15-5 lead after the first quarter before cruising to their 16th win of the season against just five losses.
With the win, Central also wins the district with an 11-1 mark
Sharp-shooting Madison Rogers had one of her best games as she led Central with 17 points, including five buckets from beyond the arc. Always-steady Sandrea Sylman was next with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Shamiyah Jones, Alexus Mitchell and Rebekah Hill all had seven points for the winners with Jones also being credited with five assists.
Jaimesia Parks had eight points for Tyner while Porchia Turner finished with seven.
TYNER 5 8 6 2 -- 21
CENTRAL 15 11 21 7 -- 54
TYNER (21) -- Parks 8, McLemore, Conyers 4, Christopher 2, Smith, Rodgers, Turner 7.
CENTRAL (54) -- S. Jones 7, Rogers 17, Davis 2, Sylman 14, Mitchell 7, Hixson, Grampp, Feist, N. Jones, Hill 7, Miller 3.
3-POINT GOALS: Tyner none; Central 6 (Rogers 5, Sylman).
TYNER 22 14 15 17 -- 68
CENTRAL 13 8 16 19 -- 56
TYNER (68) -- Spence 16, Mastin 9, Cameron 14, Watkins 5, Jones 16, Strickland, Hardwick 8.
CENTRAL (56) -- Montgomery 13, Tr. Tiller 11, Billingsley, Hayes 6, Te. Tiller 1, Stewart 4, Benford 14, Johnson 2, Poole, Boyd, Long 5.
3-POINT GOALS: Tyner 3 (Mastin 2, Jones); Central 6 (Tre Tiller, Hayes, Benford 3, Long).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)