Pictured are seniors, JoJo Bailey, Codi Chick, and Bri Sanderson
After Tuesday’s loss to the Caddo Hills Indians in the first round of State, the Mansfield Tigers basketball season has reached the end of the court. After finishing regular season play with an 8-6 record, most opponents had already written the Tigers off. But after they got their hands on and seized Magazine, Mountainburg, AND Acorn to walk away as the 2A West District Champions, people started to sit up and take notice.
Earning the #1 seed going into Regionals, Mansfield took the win over Cotter and scored themselves a ticket to State. The Tigers ended Regionals as the #4 seed and from there it was time to pack their bags and roll on to State. On Tuesday, March 9th, the Mansfield Tigers and the Caddo Hills Indians busted open States doors prepared for an all-out battle. The first quarter ended with a slow start from the Tigers as they were down 5-12.
After the morning coffee started to kick in, the Tigers were now wide awake going into the second quarter. Tyler Escalante, Codi Chick, and Bri Sanderson started droppin’ two’s like they were going out of style. Add JoJo Bailey’s two free-throws and the Tigers started to materialize their hunger to win through point-making. The game went into halftime with the Indians up 25-17 but Mansfield wasn’t done just yet. Zayne Dugan put himself on the board with a 2 point shot along with Escalante while Chick got tres happy discharging back-to-back 3 pointers.
With the scoreboard lit up 41-29 Caddo Hills going into the fourth quarter, Mansfield still had a chance. But after a rough go defensively coupled with a hard time getting shots to fall, the Indians walked away with a 58-40 win while the Tigers said goodbye to State. But no tears need be shed. The 2020-2021 Mansfield Tigers accomplished things that haven’t been done in years. They gave it their all this season and showed what always continuing to push forward can do. Codi Chick led in points with 19 followed by Tyler Escalante with 8, JoJo Bailey with 4, Zayne Dugan, Austin Quinalty, and Bri Sanderson with 2 each, and Reagan Emery with 1.
This season the Mansfield Tigers will be shipping off three seniors in Chick, Sanderson, and Bailey. When asked their thoughts about the game and season in general, Sanderson responded “I’ve played basketball for about 7 years and basketball is a fast-paced game and when your team is working together and doing good it makes all the hard work worth it. When it came to the way I played Tuesday, I think I could have done better on defense. My favorite moment from the season was when Ethan Pettus hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to put us into overtime and win the game.”
Sanderson continued “I’m definitely gonna miss the great athletes I played with. They all worked hard and had a lot of heart and Coach Stovall is good at his job. He really knows the game and got to pass on some of his knowledge to us.” After high school, Sanderson plans to start a life outside of sports and look into some trade schools. But first, he’s off to throw shot and discus for track. Chick added, “I felt like we were all very nervous about just being in the State Playoffs, which is something that hasn’t been done in boys basketball for a long time now. I felt like throughout the game we had a lot of mental break downs which cost us the game.“
“But it was an experience for all of us. I’ll miss every one of my teammates and my coaches. Basketball has a way of bringing people together and it’s a special thing to be apart of. The interactions and wanting to work towards getting better every day for a common goal like State is special. We grew as a team and I’ll miss every one of those guys and I wish them the best of luck for next season!” Codi is also planning on running in track now that basketball is over. And after high school, he’s hoping to get the opportunity to play college basketball.
Playing basketball since the 7th-grade, Bailey loves that he can escape by going to a park or court and play ball by himself. “I’m not too disappointed in how I played Tuesday. I probably should’ve shot more though. My favorite highlights from this season were definitely winning Districts and making it to State for the first time in a long time. What I’m going to miss most about the team and coaches is how we bonded. Everyone on the team clicked. I mean, we definitely butted heads sometimes but most of the time it was just fun to be around the guys. My plans for after high school are to go to college and major in Physical Therapy and hopefully keep playing basketball. For now, I’m needing to put all of my focus on school and preparing for the ACT.”