“Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit. You my friend have just been hit. The getting up is up to you”. That is a quote from actor Michael Douglas in the 1996 movie “The Ghost and The Darkness”. Douglas made the quote to costar Val Kilmer after Kilmer missed a shot while hunting a pair of lions. The Lady Tigers were rolling high on the hardwoods going 7-0 overall and on their way to a Booneville Classic tournament championship. They literally couldn’t miss. That is until they got “hit” by the Dover Lady Pirates with a 53-41 loss in the championship game. Now with a loss in their pockets, would Mansfield stay hit or would they get back up? That question was answered when the Lady Tigers took on the Hackett Lady Hornets on Tuesday, December 6th.
The early answer wasn’t hit, it was a downright H-I-T. The Lady Tigers seemed to be playing on two left feet and without thumbs which gave Hackett an early 8-0 run on Mansfield. Mansfield’s shots and passes were wildly missing the mark while Hackett was running smoothly through the Lady Tigers defense. It was Alyson Edwards who finally broke out onto the scoreboard on a free throw with just 1:32 left in the opening quarter. Edwards created a spark for the Lady Tigers, but it was a far cry from the normal bonfire the Lady Tigers usually produce as Mansfield ended the first quarter down 8-4. Hackett continued to pour it on the Lady Tigers in the second quarter with three-point shots and owning the backboards for rebounds. Although Kynslee and Kaylee Ward kept the Lady Tigers idling along by making a couple of shots and steals, Hackett was able to continue swarming numbers up higher and higher on the scoreboard. With Mansfield unable to get up to play, things began to look dismal as the halftime buzzer sounded with Hackett having a commanding 24-9 lead over the Lady Tigers.
After their first loss followed by a 15-point deficit, the Lady Tigers didn’t look like they would be able to get back up. Looks can be deceiving though and Mansfield began to straighten things out behind the hardwood buzzsaw herself, Alyson Edwards. Edwards started the second half with a quick bucket off the boards and then was fouled on the way up for another shot for a plus-one. But wait, there’s more. Edwards powered her way back to the nets for a solo score and backed that one up with yet another rebound and board bucket. Hackett was still scoring on the Lady Tigers, but Edwards determination kicked the rest of the team into gear. Kaylee Ward drew a foul on a rebound putback and sank both free throws. Natalie Allison got the Lady Tigers long-range game on par by draining a three-pointer from downtown to close out the third quarter. Mansfield was closing the gap on the scoreboard, but the gap was still ever present with the Lady Hornets leading 33-19 as both teams prepared for the final quarter.
Hackett started the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead and the ball. Both would be taken from the Lady Hornets though as the Lady Tigers began to roar back. Harlie Fuller lit the fuse for Mansfield’s dynamite comeback when she jumped amongst a bigger group of Lady Hornets and fought her way for a huge rebound. The rebound by Fuller not only turned into points on the other side of the court, but also gave Mansfield a lot of momentum. Kynslee Ward brought the score to a one-point 33-32 gap by sinking a three-pointer. Ward was quick to steal the ball on Hackett’s next possession to roll in an easy layup to give Mansfield the lead for the first time in the game. Jump shots by Natalie Allison and Alyson Edwards, and a three-pointer by Harlie Fuller put the Lady Tigers on an unprecedented 20-point run on Hackett forcing the Lady Tigers to take a time-out. With a 39-33 lead on Hackett, the Lady Tigers went back on the court to make up for the previous three quarters. Now with their offense clicking, Mansfield put on the full-court defense to shut down any Hackett comeback attempts. It was all Mansfield from there as Harlie Fuller and Natalie Allison dropped some threes through the net while Seven Sanderson, Kaylee Ward, and Alyson Edwards dominated the backboards. The Lady Tigers held Hackett to just three points and racked up ten times more than allowed in the fourth quarter by collecting 30 points in just one quarter to defeat Hackett 49-36.
If there were any questions as to whether the Lady Tigers could get back up on their own after a loss, their game versus Hackett proved that they definitely have the capability to stand tall. Now with an 8-1 overall record, Mansfield will go into conference play. This is where all the hits count as Mansfield eyes another conference championship. The first conference game will be against a very unfamiliar opponent. In fact, many players on the team may not have ever even heard of them. Mansfield will host the Hector Wildcats on Friday, December 9th. Although the players may not know much about Hector, many of their parents know what the Wildcats used to bring to the table in the 90s. Hector will be no walk in the park, but the Lady Tigers aren’t walkers, they’re runners.