Mansfield’s junior girls opened the 2016-2017 basketball season with a dominate performance over the Hackett Hornets. Fresh off a team building exercise at Bowling World, the MJH girls teamed together for the non-conference win on November 7.
At the urging of some of his team leaders, Mansfield basketball coach John Mackey and his wife Debbie took his players to a night on the town. Bowling and pizza in a wall reducing atmosphere was on the agenda. Coming together in an arena away from the basketball gym to help form bonds while in the gym was their prime objective.
By the looks of the 31-16 display on the Mansfield scoreboard a few days later, the trip to Fort Smith must have worked.
The junior Lady Tigers covered the passing lanes and generated several steals and fast break layups to open the basketball season against Hackett. The results shell shocked a Hornets teams that failed to score but one field goal in the first three quarters as the Lady Tigers built and sustained a large lead.
“We’ve been stressing being good teammates, and wanting to play for each other not just beside each other,” said Mackey. “Following that lead, a couple of players organized a team outing on the Saturday before our first game. It’s amazing how many walls can be broken down with the number of gutter balls we threw at Bowling World that night.”
Mansfield’s Danielle Lillie was the main recipient of the unselfish play of the Tigers. Leaking out off the top of a stingy half-court defense, Lillie received several outlet passes off steals to convert layups.
Lillie led all scorers with 10 points on the night. Six of those came in the first quarter as the host team screamed ahead 13-2 to start the contest.
Hackett suffered through the first half with a limited offense going 6 of 14 at the free throw line in the second period. Mansfield’s aggressive defensive style forced the visitors to repeated trips to the charity stripe as the Tigers committed 10 fouls in the half alone.
“We did a good job of creating turnovers by putting pressure on the ball and crashing the defensive boards,” commented the Mansfield coach. “We did foul to much. But, I’d rather be aggressive going for the ball than sit back and let them do what they wanted on offense.”
Freshman Abby Turner came off the Tiger bench to add extra offense to the home team. The slashing ninth grade guard made three field goals in the fourth quarter and a free throw in the first period for seven total points.
Newcomer Brooke Wright covered the middle with strong rebounds and solid free throwing for Mansfield. The eighth grade Texas transplant found a bucket in the second stanza and was 3 of 4 at the line for five points in the Tiger victory.
Mansfield used 12 players in the first half, and all 16 dressed participants throughout the entire contest. Freshmen Daniella Santander and Maggie Strunk joined Lillie and Wright in the starting lineup. Isabella Stipins joined the first five as well.
Strunk contributed five points including 1 of 2 free throws. Stipins made an early basket as six total Tigers found the scoring column.
Guards Mikayla Harrison and Morgan Burns played heavy minutes for Mansfield. Amber Elmore, Deana Sensinger, and Abigail Morgan offered extended help through the post with rebounding and steals.
Mansfield led 17-8 at the half. They extended their lead by six more points in the third quarter to build a 23-8 margin going into the fourth.
The Lady Tigers were to have attend the opening round of Hackett Earl White Classic on November 15 verses Trinity. The group will move along bracket lines until they played three games in the tournament concluding on Saturday, November 19.
Mansfield will be hosting a four game night against Waldron on Friday, November 18. The junior girls start off the home set at 4:00 PM. A rolling schedule will follow with the junior boys, senior girls, and senior boys.