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Monday, April 15, 2024

Jr Tigers Leave Opponents Worried About 2022


Pictured: The Jr Tiger 9th-Graders

The (4-1) Mansfield Jr Tigers closed out their season on Saturday, February 13 in the championship round of the District Tournament as the #2 seed against the Mountainburg Dragons. “It was not the outcome we wanted,” explained Coach Keith Stovall. “But it certainly defined one of my favorite quotes. “If you never quit, you never lose.” We came up short on the scoreboard falling in the end 42-36 to Mountainburg, but the no-quit attitude of these young men will carry them into future championship games.”

Peyton Martin

“Talking with the players after the game, I discovered that for many of them this was the first time they had ever played in a championship game in any sport. It showed itself in the first quarter and with the added problem of not playing in two weeks, Mansfield came out ice cold. As one player described himself, after the game, “his right arm felt heavy from all the nervousness.” Another talked about the extreme butterflies in his stomach. I told him that if you don’t have those, you don’t love the game.”

Travis Tobey

The Tigers ended the first quarter down 17-0. “For a lesser group, the game would have been over. We fought back and outscored Mountainburg 36-25 in the final 3 quarters. Just not quite enough to overcome the 1st quarter. Prior to this game, only one other time this year had a team broke 40 points on this group and you would have to go back to before Christmas for that. Defense was their strongest asset and they were usually outsized in every game.”

Tyler Turnipseed

“This is an excellent group of young men that learned this year what playing with heart meant. They were one of the most coachable groups that I have ever been associated with. They did not miss practice other than quarantine and trusted the process. So very hard to do as we went through some coaching changes over the summer. No heroes in this group. Not one single player you could single out, as an opposing coach, as the guy you have to stop.”

Dakota Langford

“It just seemed like every game, it was someone different stepping up making plays. Yes Sir! was their response to a compliment, a correction, or getting chewed out. That is so hard to beat and usually hard to teach. For these qualities, I thank their parents as they are qualities that are difficult to coach and make all the difference in practice and games. I have not sat down and went through the individual stats that most want to see. We focused on the stats that don’t normally appear in the newspaper.”

#12 Austin Ruiz

“How many times did we pass the ball before taking a shot? Were we more hands than feet on defense? How many second chance opportunities did we give ourselves? How many times did we deflect a pass and disrupt an offense? Stats that are forgotten but the ones that make the difference in winning and losing games. We had consistent perimeter shooting from Travis Tobey, Peyton Martin, and Tyler Turnipseed. The triplets also had the ability to drive the lane and were huge on the boards.”

Zach Hayslip

“Dakota Langford was a strong presence inside and could knock down medium-range jump shots. Zach Hayslip was a strong rebounder and huge interior defensive player. Zach also provided key points inside and around the free-throw line. Moving forward, Mansfield has a solid group of freshmen moving up to senior high next year. Also adding to that freshmen group, if Brandon Segura continues to develop, he could become a strong force inside for Mansfield. Plus strong supporting roles from James Jenkins and Jaxon Heydenreich.”

Coach Stovall with his freshmen starters

“For next year’s Jr High squad, we have a really good group of 8th-Graders ready to step in. Taking over the helm at the point will be Winston Allison. Winston saw a lot of quality minutes in games this year and did a great job, particularly on defense. He will be complemented with a very athletic Austin Ruiz and Aaron Person, and strong rebounding and defender Cameron Pettus. Axle Martin could also step in a big way. His off-season will figure strongly into how he develops. Adding to next season’s Jr High team will be a talented group of 7th-Graders who could find their way to some starting positions. In preparing for next year, after spring break, I plan to take all the basketball players, that are not running track and set aside one day a week for basketball-specific training!”

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