After a stellar ending to a superb season, the Mansfield Sr Lady Tigers can now sit back and reap the benefits. After closing down the show as one of the Elite 8 in the State Tournament, the girls truly accomplished more this season than has been done in a long time. The Lady Tigers not only ended their season with a 22-7 overall record and 11-1 in conference play but they also defeated a 6A school, defeated 11 basketball-only schools, was the Conference Runner-Up, the District Runner-Up, and third in Region. “They have accomplished so much this season,” expressed head coach, Josh Bryan. “I’m proud of these young ladies and their accomplishments.”
When it came to the preparation and start of the 2020-2021 basketball season, the Lady Tigers weren’t exempt from the pandemic protocols that were placed on all sports programs. It certainly made things difficult and at a time for over a month, the Lady Tigers were only playing with half of their numbers. But they persevered through it all and ended having one of the best seasons in school history.
Although not everyone received accolades, the Lady Tigers are a complete team in every form of the definition. Everyone had a role on the team and no matter what that role was, they embraced it. Sophomores Lita Hecox and Serenity Brunson along with Freshmen Raine Hecox, Kynslee Ward, and Cole Smith made sure that the team earned every win by dishing out serious work for the starters in each and every practice. They all won as a team and lost as a team but in the end they were ALL IN as a team.
Coach Bryan concluded, “This was a great season overall. Not solely due to the wins, but also because of the growth and maturity of the players who put on the Mansfield uniform this year. All of these accomplishments prove how hard these young ladies have worked over the course of the season. From November 9th-March 12th, the season was long, but it’ll be something that we will remember for the rest of our lives! Thank you seniors for your hard work to jump-start our basketball program. We are especially proud and grateful for each of you!”
The Lady Tigers have four seniors moving on to bigger and brighter things. Makayla Strutton, Brooke Wright, Chloe Creekmore, and Danielle Lillie.
For her send-off, Chloe Creekmore leaves the Mansfield basketball program with this. “Goodbye to the mistakes we’ve made, remember the laughs we’ve shared!” I was most proud of how far we came as individuals and as a team, we reached more individual goals this year than the last two years combined. I’m going to miss spending so much time with the team and Coach Bryan, all the laughs and the feeling of achievement after we won each game!”
In her final good-bye, Brooke Wright expressed, “Since moving to Mansfield five years ago, I noticed that the senior high girls’ basketball program struggled heavily. Simply winning a game was a challenge. I’m proud to be part of the group that began changing that. I’m proud of this season. I’m proud of all the girls who worked hard for it, and our coach. Coach Bryan is a very respectable man. I’m glad I was able to play for him all of these years. I’m definitely going to miss the laughs and jokes. There were many good memories made this year, and I’m happy I’ll be able to look back on them years from now. The future of Mansfield’s girl’s basketball is in good hands, and I wish them the best!”
Makayla Strutton said in her final statement, “I think this season was overall very successful. We had mistakes but we never failed to fix them by the time our next game came. What I’m most proud of this season is honestly making it to State with this team. Everyone said we couldn’t do it and we proved them wrong and ended the season as the Top 8 in the state. What I will miss most about Mansfield basketball will honestly be the team chemistry I’ve built with all the girls and most definitely Coach Bryan. He’s such a great person inside and outside the gym and he makes sure his players are good on and off the court. Once we leave the gym we know coach would still be there whenever we needed him. I want to thank him for how hard he pushed us at times and how stern he was to us at times but it was all worth it in the end. He pushed us and we took it and went as far as we could this season and I couldn’t be happier with my senior year of ball!”
And Danielle Lillie delivered these parting words. “What I will miss most is probably Coach Bryan because it was him who made the team how it was. This season went very well. Every girl on that team made me very proud. We wouldn’t have made it that far with everyone having heart. We all had some part in at least getting a chance to go to State. It was a great feeling. Good luck girls to next season!”