The undefeated Mansfield JR Lady Tigers had their momentum rolling like a freight train in the first half of the season. The question was though, could they maintain that momentum and defeat a talented team like the Acorn Blue Tigers twice in one season? The Mansfield faithful didn’t have to cheat, study, or even Google the answer to that question after Tuesday, January 18th because the Lady Tigers gave the answer away with a 48-12 win over Acorn.
The Lady Tigers knew the game against Acorn would be different than their last meeting due to two Mansfield starters being out, but that’s what makes this group so special. Where one falls, another steps in place. Acorn was able to get under Mansfield’s skin early with a tight man coverage on defense forcing the Lady Tigers to fight for every inch of court. With pressure comes the inevitable fouls and Mansfield gave the first points of the game away with an Acorn of a free throw. While the pressure was frustrating for Mansfield’s high-powered offense, they were able to use their larger size at the boards to make up for it. The Blue Tigers concentrated heavily on shutting down Kaylee Wards rebounding abilities on defense and held the Lady Tigers star to only 2 points of offense in the first quarter. By doing so, they left the other Super K, Kaylie Lowery, open to rebound the ball multiple times in the first quarter. With those rebounds, Lowery burnt Acorn with a slew of put backs for 6 points. Acorn was just too hard nosed for the Lady Tigers offense to get reeling though as Mansfield held a narrow 9-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for Mansfield to start figuring out the Blue Tigers defensive plans after the first quarter as the Lady Tigers exploited the weaknesses in Acorns pressure in the second quarter. Mansfield went on a fast paced 6-0 run on the Blue Tigers forcing Acorn to call a time out with 3:23 left in the half. After the time out, Laney Woods showed Acorn that the time out was all for not as she drilled a 3-point shot on the Blue Tigers right after play resumed. The Lady Tigers defense stepped up and began to show Acorn how it’s done with big blocked shots by Kaylee Ward, monstrous rebounds by Kaylie Lowery, and smooth steals by Trinity Triska. Triska and Shelbie Fuller even got into the offensive mix by knocking down a bucket each towards the end of the half as Mansfield went into halftime with an 18-9 lead.
The Acorn Blue Tigers were frustrated coming out of halftime and their fouling showed it. The successor of those fouls was Kaylee Ward and the “Quarter of Ward” was born from there. Ward scored nearly every time she touched the ball in the third quarter as she swished 5 points in free throws, 6 points off layups, and defensively had multiple blocked shots and rebounds. Ward wasn’t the only one dominating the boards though. Azlynn Stover and Kaylie Lowery proved that rebounds are a basketball team’s food, and they came to eat a full backboard buffet. The Lady Tigers defense as a whole held Acorn to a mere 3 points in the third quarter as they entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 30-12 gap on the scoreboard against the Blue Tigers.
With a large lead, Mansfield was able to see what hidden jewels they had who hadn’t hit the court yet against Acorn. There’s no exaggerating that Meghan Emery was the Coupe Deville hiding at the bottom on the Lady Tigers Cracker Jacks box in the fourth quarter. Emery found a way to hit shots that most physicist has yet seen as she exploded 10 points onto the scoreboard in the late in the fourth quarter. The scoring spree from Emery along with Kaylee Ward and Kaylie Lowery putting up 2 points apiece set the Lady Tigers up for the win, but it was the defense that closed things out. The Lady Tigers held Acorn scoreless in the fourth quarter which finalized the Lady Tigers victory with a commanding 48-12 final score.
The win over the Blue Tigers brings the JR Lady Tigers winning streak to 16-0. Mansfield may be on quite the run, but they know all too well that they can’t let their guard down. Especially with their next game on Thursday, January 20th against their rivals, the Hackett Lady Hornets. Even though it will count as a non-conference game, a win against Hackett always counts for something to Mansfield.