After a quiet first quarter, Tyner senior Kobe Smith kept his calm in front of a sold- out crowd watching a battle of District 6-AA basketball powers.
Smith helped spark a 23-point third quarter, which was crucial to the Rams pulling out a 65-62 win at Howard on Friday night.
"We have to keep our head up through adversity," said Smith, who ignited the crowd along with Javontay Smith as the two hit a pair of 3-point baskets in the third. "Our backs were against the wall early, and we responded. We stayed together in crunch time.
Tyner edges HowardView 6 Photos
"This was a big one. The crowd was huge."
Howard (8-2, 4-1) took a 34-28 halftime lead as senior CJ James was difficult to guard. The quarterback for the football Hustlin' Tigers scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half, which included three long-range makes.
Playing with power in the lane, Neiagell Sturkey produced big for Tyner (9-2, 5-0). He contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Sophomore point guard Keilan Holloway and Kameron Dozier helped seal the victory late with crucial points. Holloway finished with 11.
"This was a statement win," Sturkey said. "We were trying to get revenge for them putting us out last year in the region semifinals. This is my senior year and our class wants to go out with a bang. I can't let my team down. Nights like this motivate us."
Howard's Demetrius Bowens knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 11 points, followed by Jaylen Sexton's 10.
The win for the Rams puts them in the driver's seat for the regular-season district crown.
"We want to have senior night at the Murphy Center (in Murfreesboro at the state tournament)," Tyner coach E'Jay Ward said. "This is a special moment for our seniors, and we want to cherish them while they are here. You never know when you might have another group like this come through, and they pulled together tonight."