Pictured is Natalie Allison
Both Mountainburg and Mansfield’s senior girls’ basketball programs could be seen as the Chinese idiom of “The Tiger and The Dragon” as the up-and-coming Lady Tigers program looked to overcome the Lady Dragons program who has been a staple of excellence in 2A basketball for years. On Tuesday night, the two clashed in an epic showdown that showed everyone that destiny has nothing to do with who you are, it’s how you play. Each team played the game out round by round like a heavyweight boxing match with the Sr Lady Tigers scaling past Mountainburg on the judges’ scorecards 55-50.
Round 1 in the first quarter went to the Lady Dragons as the Lady Tigers struggled to get the game at their pace. Mansfield’s sluggish play out of the gate opened up the opportunity for the Lady Dragons to sink multiple threes in the first quarter. Compile that with the Lady Tigers rebounding woes and Mansfield finished out the quarter down by a little, but still losing none the less 14-10. The Dragons were able to get Mansfield on the ropes but weren’t able to deliver the knockout punch in Round 1.
The Lady Tigers came out swinging with haymakers in the second quarter showing the Dragons on the old guard that they would not be denied. Mansfield found their feet and turned the tables on the Lady Dragons with a need…..a need for speed! With breakaway layups, slick steals, and a hustle from board to board, the Lady Tigers began to run Mountainburg ragged. By changing the pace of the game from zero to one hundred, Mansfield put the Dragons on their heels with their hands on their knees gasping for air. Round 2 of the match went to the Lady Tigers with their Sugar Ray Lennard mentality driving them to a 28-26 lead at halftime.
Mansfield continued to pound on the Lady Dragons in the 3rd quarter with the same ol song and dance. The Lady Tigers did it all. They rebounded. They stole the ball. They scored points. They had the mighty Lady Dragons chained down with nowhere to go as they ended the 3rd quarter with a solid 41-36 lead giving them a unanimous vote in Round 3. With the Lady Tigers keeping Mountainburg grounded for back to back rounds, Mansfield was sure to pull away in the 4th and final quarter with a KO right? NOT SO FAST! The old guard would not be put down that easily and they came back on Mansfield with a vengeance.
The Lady Tigers began to slow down and Mountainburg was there ready to light up a comeback fire. Mansfield was making mental mistakes such as fouls, missing free throws, and slowing the pace back to their 1st quarter performance. Mountainburg on the other hand was getting hot and closed the Lady Tigers 15 point lead to a two-point game in the closing minutes. The Lady Tigers would not fall on this night though as they maintained their lead and watched the clock hit 0:00 on the game. Although they didn’t get the massive KO punch they wanted, the Lady Tigers still took the 55-50 win and completed their conference sweep.
Leading this bare-knuckle exchange was Danielle Lillie with 15 points closely followed by Makayla Strutton with 12, Skylynn Harris and Chloe Creekmore with 8 apiece, Natalie Allison with 6, Brooke Wright with 4, and Kiara Thomas with 2. With a 12-3 overall record and an undefeated 6-0 conference record, the Lady Tigers have proved that they can slay Dragons, snap Arrows, down Rockets, round up Rattlers, and topple other Tigers in the 2A-4. As awesome as that is, they’re not done yet. They’ll have to turn around and do it all over again in the second half of their schedule to earn the crown as conference champions. The first step towards that massive feat will be against the JC Westside Rebels at Homecoming this Friday, January 15.