Prestonwood Christian basketball fans are plenty accustomed to dominant displays on the hardwood inside its home gym, but seldom from the visiting team.
But it’s just been that kind of season for the John Paul II boys.
The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ top-ranked private school team, and winners of 28 of 29 games, kept its once-beaten record intact on Tuesday after breezing past the Lions, 81-48.
Models of consistency, John Paul strung together three straight 21-point quarters to close out the victory and eclipse 80 points for the 18th time this season.
“I know it’s cliche, but we just focus on our next opponent. We had an emotional game with Bishop Lynch on Saturday and then they turned right around and focused on Prestonwood,” said Dan Lee, Prestonwood head coach. “They don’t focus on the record, there aren’t any goals in terms of wins and losses — we just go out and play the next game and they do a great job of that.”
Tuesday’s modus operandi was a familiar one for the Cardinals, whose size and length meshed with a trapping defense to generate a myriad of turnovers and ignite the team’s tried-and-true transition offense.
More often than not, those fast-break opportunities resulted in a finish on the other end for junior Jaylon Tyson, who led all scorers with 28 points. Tyson did his damage in just three quarters, adding six rebounds and a trio of steals, and scored 11 points in a third quarter that saw John Paul outscore Prestonwood, 21-9, for a 60-32 advantage. At one point, Tyson had scored 28 points versus just 29 total points scored by the Lions.
“[Tyson] was focused and in the zone. He’s a special offensive player,” Lee said. “He can score from the perimeter, by attacking the rim or knocking down free throws. He’s a good passer who sees the floor well. He’s a special player.”
Prestonwood’s best moments came early into the ballgame, despite a quick flurry from the Cardinals to build an 11-3 lead. The Lions responded with a 7-0 run, including an alley-oop lay-in by sophomore Nate Stafford and a 3-pointer from junior Jacob Millhouse, to close the gap to 11-10.
John Paul’s counter came in a hurry, closing the frame on its own 7-0 burst over the final 90 seconds of the quarter, capped by a quick steal and finish off a made basket by senior Jajuan Tot for an 18-10 lead at the end of the opening stanza.
The Lions fired away from deep again early in the second quarter with a 3-pointer from sophomore Vinny Sigona, but John Paul senior Nathan Dominick converted an and-one on the other end to swell the Cardinals’ lead to 24-13 with 5:10 remaining in the half. The Lions wouldn’t get the deficit back into single digits the rest of the ballgame.
“They cut it to 11-10 after hitting a couple threes and then we finally got our game going running the ball. We created some turnovers, got a quick layup and got it to 18-10,” Lee said. “It’s been that way with everybody, though. We have to tempo, run and get into the open floor, and when we can do that then we can be pretty good.”
Tyson led a cast of 12 different Cardinals who scored in Tuesday’s win. Dominick added 14 points alongside four steals, while senior Matt Lehmann came off the bench with seven points. Prestonwood’s effort was paced by 15 points from Millhouse and 11 points and 13 rebounds from junior Connor Redrow.
“We’ve got guys that can start and guys that can finish. When they all do their job and share the ball, they’re pretty good,” Lee said.
The Cardinals return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday for a road game at Parish Episcopal. That same time, Prestonwood welcomes Universal Academy in a non-district matchup.