The Mansfield Jr High Tigers have had it rough the last couple of games. For their first match of February, the Tigers hosted the Greenland Pirates on Tuesday night. This was the second to last game that the Jr Tigers would play until Districts the week of February tenth. At the end of the first quarter, the Tigers were down 11-2. After a highly motivational speech by Mansfield coach, Keith Stovall, a fire was lit under the Tigers tails.
Holding the Pirates to just one more point before halftime, Mansfield was only down 12-8. After a quick water break and a Stovall speech, Mansfield marched backed onto the court determined to make magic happen in the second half of the game. Both teams kept each other grounded in the third quarter by allowing zero pace to be picked up by the opposing team and the score sat at 15-14.
Time was winding down and the Tigers were more determined than ever to shut the Pirates party down once and for all. With five minutes left in the game, the Tigers took their first lead of the evening but lost it shortly after to a Greenland three-pointer. As fans were going wild with all of the back and forth action, the Tigers had enough of the cat and mouse game. With one minute left, Mansfield was back on top with a Tyler Turnipseed three-pointer putting the Tigers at 21-19.
35 seconds were left on the clock and the anxiety in the gym was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Fans were holding their breath, coaches were clenching their teeth, and the Tigers were cool as a cucumber knowing that they were about the execute a plan that would win the game. It was Mansfield’s turn to take the ball out. Braxton Byers placed himself on the outside line ready to throw the ball in. As his teammates got into formation, Byers bounced the ball off the back of a Pirate player, allowing him to maintain possession to then delivered the most epic two-point bucket. After earning a few more hoops, the Tigers walked away from the battle with a 28-21 win upgrading their season to 5-9.
Drew Elmore led his team in scoring with nine points while Clint Stovall earned six, Tyler Turnipseed made five, and Braxton Byers and Austin Quinalty netted four each. The Tigers also achieved 24 rebounds and four steals to end the evening. In their final game of the season before District, the Tigers will host the West Fork Tigers on Friday, February 7 starting at 4 p.m. Mansfield will be going into district play as the number eight seed facing Charleston. “We lost two very close games to them in season,” said coach Keith Stovall. “But we can win that game if we cut out the mental mistakes.”