By definition, “Close” is a short distance away or apart in space or time. After the 3A Jr Girls’ District semifinals game on Thursday, February 13, Webster’s Dictionary may wind up changing that definition to “Mansfield vs Elkins” as the Jr Lady Tigers edged out the Lady Elks 29-23. But who cares about “close”. We all know that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The Mansfield Jr Lady Tigers are now Championship bound.
These two teams split their regular-season games with Mansfield dominating the Lady Elks at home 45-29 and Elkins returning the favor by flooring the Lady Tigers 33-25 later in the season in Elkins. This time, the two squads squared off on a neutral court in Lincoln for a chance to move on to the District championship game. From the tip-off of the game, the stands scooted up on the edges of their seats for this highly anticipated and sure to be high scoring match-up. Both teams gave the fans exactly what they expected as the game was truly a nail biter. The high scoring part on the other hand…….
The Lady Tigers couldn’t seem to get their high octane offense in gear against the Lady Elks. At the same time, Mansfield refused to give Elkins a chance to put points up. At the end of the first quarter, the score stood at a teeny tiny 7-5 Mansfield lead. Knowing their offense wasn’t clicking, the Lady Tigers doubled down on their defensive efforts. Mansfield held Elkins to five points in the second quarter, but the Lady Elks, unfortunately, stepped up their defense too by holding Mansfield to merely three points sending the teams into halftime tied 10-10.
The Lady Tigers stepped back out on the court full of confidence with their chins up and chests out. You could see the focus and determination in their eyes. They would NOT lose this game. Mansfield’s dominant defense continued to stuff the Lady Elks in the second half with one highlight being a huge blocked shot by Skylynn Harris. With the quarter coming to an end, an Elkins player went up for an easy short shot to extend the Elks to a 15-14 third-quarter lead. Quickly noticing this, Harris flew up and spiked the ball with a perfect volleyball form sending the basketball into the stands. The oxygen in the gym was very thin as fans were trying to catch their breath going into the fourth quarter down 15-14 to Elkins.
Something had to either pick up or give in at some point. For the Lady Tigers, it was their offense that picked up, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter. It was the Lady Elks that gave in as Mansfield’s defense pressured Elkins so much you could can a full bushel of green beans. The count down towards the end was ticking. With 1:36 in the game, the Tigers were up 25-21. With 1:02 left Elkins was back in it only down 25-23. The Lady Tigers forced Elkins to start fouling to stop the clock which in the end was just what they wanted. Sinking their shots the Lady Tigers defeated a tough Elkins team 29-23 to punch their ticket to the Championship game.
Harlie Fuller and Alyson Edwards tied in points with eight each followed by Natalie Allison with seven, Harris with four, and Kynslee Ward with two. The Jr District Championship will be held in Lincoln on Saturday, February 15. The #1 seeded Lady Tigers will go head-to-head against the #2 seeded Cedarville Lady Pirates at 5 p.m.