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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Sr Lady Tigers Season Ends As An Elite 8 Team

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The Mansfield Sr Lady Tigers fell in their second round of the State Playoffs to Melbourne. The Lady Tigers lost 68-26 to the Lady Bearcats who also happen to be Arkansas #1 ranked team across all conferences 2A-7A on Melbourne’s home court. Melbourne is also the back-to-back 2A State Champions and has a roster full of D1 college-level talent. Although the lore of Melbourne is highly touted, the Lady Tigers did not use that as an excuse for the loss. They owned the loss and gave thanks for a great season. That is what kind of team the 2020-21 Lady Tigers were.

Rather than focus on the end of their season, let us focus on the accomplishments of this top-tier team. Mansfield was an underdog from the beginning of the season. With only four seniors to lead the team and a bunch of unknowns in the background, the Lady Tigers drew little respect at the beginning of the season. After going 3-3 with early losses to Lamar, Paris, and Booneville, future opponents began marking an automatic W on their schedules. No one knows how it happened, but after their loss to Lamar, something woke up the sleeping giant of the Lady Tigers.

The Lady Tigers went on a 10 game winning streak owning every opponent who dared step foot on a basketball court. They didn’t just win though, they dominated. Mansfield outscored their opponents by a combined score of 588-312 in their winning streak. As records were broken and opponents fell, Mansfield started to become a noticeable force in the 2A statewide. The streak ended with a loss to 2A perineal powerhouse Acorn as the Lady Tigers were forced to play without a handful of key players against Acorn at Acorn and fell 59-42. Even with the streak ended, no excuses came from the locker room or coaches for the loss. They owned the loss and endeavored to persevere to restart their streak.

Mansfield struck a match and began their fiery streak again. The Lady Tigers had epic games against Mountainburg and Magazine along the way all in order to finish their conference schedule with only one conference loss. No one could have predicted this run as the Lady Tigers stepped into the District Tournament as a #2 seed. They downed opponents through the tournament to reach the Championship game and face off against Acorn again. Mansfield fell short to Acorn again in the Championship game and became the 2020-21 2A-4 District Runner-Ups in Conference and Districts. Again, no excuses for the loss, they just kept moving forward.

Moving into the Regional Tournament as a #2 Seed, Mansfield showed their poise against the 2A-1 as they cruised past the Lifeway Lady Warriors in a 50-40 victory and punch their ticket for the State Playoffs. The Lady Tigers fell in their next Regional game against Cotter which set up the matchup everyone was longing for. Mansfield vs Acorn Part 4 with the winner going into the State Tournament as the #3 Seed. Acorn held a 2 to 1 game lead on Mansfield but the no excuses Lady Tigers weren’t going to let that get in their heads. Mansfield rolled up Acorn for the Regional Tournament victory to even the series between both teams at 2-2 and putting the Lady Tigers as the #3 Seed for State. Game 1 of the State Tournament saw the Lady Tigers take down a talented Horatio team 51-33 for their first State Tournament victory in years.

Although the Lady Tigers season has ended, they have jump-started a program that was in the cellar up to this season. They defeated a 6A school (Ft Smith Southside) and beat 11 basketball only schools. They also rounded up team awards like the 2A-4 Conference Runner-Up, 2A-4 District Runner-Up,  3rd Place in Regionals, a Round 2 appearance in the State Playoffs, and becoming one of the Top 8 teams in the entire state. This team of young ladies has proved to any future Lady Tigers that they are a top program to play for.

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