A lack of patience and forcing shots contributed to Tyner's offensive woes in Wednesday's Region 3-AA high school boys' basketball championship game at East Ridge, which means there may have been no bigger contributing factor than Howard's defense.
Limiting the Rams to nine points in the first half, the Hustlin's Tigers went on and defeated Tyner 53-41.
Livingston Academy plays Cannon County in the District 4-AA final tonight at 8 EST at White County in Sparta. Howard (22-6) will host the runner-up and Tyner (17-10) will play at the champion at 7 p.m. local time of the host school in Monday's state-sectional round.
Travis Jones made three of Tyner's baskets in succession against the Tigers. The problem for the Rams was the length of the stretch.
Jones made a layup shortly before the first-quarter buzzer after running down an errant Howard pass and had Tyner within 10-6 at the time. He then made a steal and layup, but by then it was 1:16 before halftime.
The Rams' next field goal was Jones' three-point play at 3:07 of the third quarter. Tyner's Trey Suttles had made two free throws 15 seconds earlier. Before that, Howard's lead was 36-14.
"I told them I knew we would be pretty tired after playing last night, but defense never takes a holiday," Howard coach Walter McGary said. "They seem to have bought into it. It seems like we're hitting our stride at the right time."
Region 3-AA at East Ridge
HOWARD 53, TYNER 41
Tyner 6 3 13 19 - 41
Howard 10 13 15 15 - 53
Tyner (41) - Travis Jones 13, Murphy 4, Cowan 2, D. Suttles 2, T. Suttles 3, E. Jones, Caffey 3, Spence, Leverette, Bowman 8, Bonds 6, Watkins.
Howard (53) - Barry Griffin 18, K. Cameron 8, Suttles 4, Ray 4, Martin, Roshell 2, Smith 2, McCauley, S. Cameron, Young, Webster, Brandon Walters 15.
3-point goals: Tyner 2 (Bowman 2); Howard none. Records: Howard 22-6; Tyner 17-10.
All-tournament team: Darrius Higgins, Damon Warren, Brainerd; Derrick Ashley, Nick Ross, Red Bank; Emon Jones, Travis Jones, Trey Suttles, Tyner; Keante Cameron, Brandon Walters, Barry Griffin (MVP), Howard.
The Tigers were led by senior post player Barry Griffin's 18 points. He was selected the tournament's most valuable player.
"I knew I had to come back strong," said Griffin, who didn't seem any less energized playing on consecutive nights. "I know I'm a leader and I had to play hard for my team."
In addition to the assists Griffin got from his guards, he got scoring assistance inside from reserve Brandon Watkins, who had as many points at halftime as the Rams and finished with 15.
"He's come a long way," McGary said. "If he can just remember he's got to keep the ball up high to be effective. His footwork is 200 percent better than it was at the first of the year."
Jones led Tyner with 13 points. The only other Ram to have as many as eight was JaMichael Bowman, whose two 3-pointers were in the last three-plus minutes and he made a rebound basket shortly before the final buzzer for the final score.
"Howard played great ball," Tyner coach Gerald Harris said. "We tried to make adjustments. We played man-to-man defense. We played zone. Our post people were nonexistent. That put pressure on our guards to hit shots and create shots, and I thought we rushed some things. Howard plays with a lot of poise. I thought we did about all we could."
The boys' portion of the region tournament was moved from McMinn County in Athens to East Ridge because the District 6 teams swept the quarterfinal games against the District 5 teams. Harris noted Howard and Tyner were not the top two but the third- and fourth-seeded teams from District 6's side in the region bracket.
"I feel strong about our team moving ahead," McGary said. "Statewide, we play in one of the toughest districts around."