Pictured is Makayla Strutton
The Mansfield Sr Lady Tigers have fed critics and nay-sayers humble pie all season. They were told they couldn’t compete. They were told they didn’t have the personnel. After a 3-3 start to the season, many might have thought that the critics were right. But since going 3-3, the Lady Tigers have made quite the run only losing to one program along the way. To the shock of the early season negative onlookers, Mansfield finished Runner-Up in Districts and landed a #2 seed in the Regional Tournament. They squared off against the Life Way Christian Warriors Thursday night pulling off a 50-40 victory and now the critics can have their Thanksgiving portion of humble pie because the Lady Tigers are State bound!
Mansfield started off the game losing the tip-off, but Danielle Lillie was able to steal the ball quickly off the tip setting up for a quick Lady Tiger score. The Lady Tigers put on the pressure from the early momentum by Lillie and ran away with a 22-8 first-quarter lead. Mansfield then started to play strategy basketball and uncharacteristically slowed the pace of the game. Mansfield subbed in players to keep the starters fresh, but the subs played equally as well on defense. But the key ingredient to the Lady Tigers’ 1st quarter success was at the post position with seniors Brooke Wright and Chloe Creekmore battling for rebounds while freshman sensation, Alyson Edwards, put up the backboard buckets.
As the 2nd quarter ensued, the Lady Tigers ran into foul trouble as players began to hastily reach for steals. Each reach equaled a foul and before Mansfield knew it, the Lady Warriors had made their way back into the game with free throws. Coupled with the monstrous height of Life Way Christian and some poor choices leading to turnovers, Mansfield looked to be in trouble. The Lady Tigers went into the half with a seven-point lead of 29-22.
Coming out of the half, Mansfield’s hot first half feet grew cold as the Lady Warriors took the lead in the 3rd quarter with a 35-32 score. Was this going to be the end of Mansfield’s surprising season? Apparently, the Lady Tigers were playing Tigers and mouse with Life Way Christian as they began clicking again in the 4th quarter. Mansfield began to see the chink in the Warrior’s defensive armor and began to exploit it. Makayla Strutton found an open lane three times in a row to light up the scoreboard while Chloe Creekmore and Danielle Lillie were able to float a few points through the net. Mansfield regained the lead forcing the Lady Warriors to panic and foul to stop the clock. As time ran out, Coach Joshua Bryan put in his senior starters to relish in a 50-40 victory.
Seniors Makayla Strutton and Danielle Lillie caught fire and led the Lady Tigers with 11 points apiece against Life Way Christian. Freshman Alyson Edwards rolled up 9 hard-fought points off of the boards while fellow post senior, Chloe Creekmore, pounded in 6 points. Natalie Allison knocked down 6 points in her performance vs the Lady Warriors as well. Sophomore Skylynn Harris threw down a beautiful shot for her 3 points in the game as well did freshman, Kynslee Ward, with 3 points of her own. And senior, Brooke Wright, hung up 2 points in her tough battles at the post position against the taller Lady Warriors.
The Lady Tigers will travel back to Magazine on Friday, March 5th in hopes to continue their success against yet another team of Warriors in the #1 seeded Cotter Warriors with a tip-off of 4:00 pm. The Lady Tigers are in the State Tournament no matter what, but their goal wasn’t to merely stop there. With a win, Mansfield will have the opportunity to win the Regional Championship and advance as a #1 seed in the State Tournament.