Pictured is Lady Tiger Brooke Wright
Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the moment. Friday night was one of those moments as the Mansfield Lady Tigers became the top team in their conference by defeating the Magazine Lady Rattlers 60-40. If you were in attendance at the game, you could also see what could become a pretty good rivalry developing right in front of your eyes. Mansfield’s win wasn’t a small feat by any means as the Lady Rattlers stuck often at the Tigers tail in an edge of the seat thriller.
The Lady Tigers started off the game hot but swiftly realized what the hype was around Magazine. The Lady Rattlers put a padlock on the backboards keeping Mansfield’s bread and butter up close plays out of the equation. By doing so, the Lady Tigers weren’t able to rack up the monstrous points they are used to as the 1st quarter ended with an 8-5 score in the Lady Tigers’ favor. With ten talented and aggressive ladies from two top-tier teams on the court at the same time, one would expect a high scoring shootout.
That wasn’t the case though as defense remained the focal point of both teams going into the 2nd quarter. Every shot had to be spot on and every pass had to be quick or else the ball was going the other way. Defense in basketball rarely gets the glory of offense, but the Lady Tigers were superb. Mixing the power of Brooke Wright and Seven Sanderson stuffing the Rattlers at the boards along with the in your face pressure of Danielle Lillie and Makayla Strutton, Mansfield was able to force bad passes and off shooting by Magazine. Going into the half, Mansfield held on to a slim 23-17 lead.
After the half, Lady Tiger fans were able to witness what a good coach is capable of as Coach Joshua Bryan regrouped his players for a second-half that will land in Lady Tiger folklore for years to come. The Lady Tigers changed offensive style and made their definitive game to primary scoring focus. Mansfield began to run the Rattlers raged with steals and breakaway layups sending Magazine to all corners of the court to cover. The aggressive mindset led to their largest lead of the night as Mansfield ended the 3rd quarter up by 13 points, 44-31. The high octane defensive pressure continued into the 4th quarter while the Lady Tigers became methodical on offense. Each pass was spot on. Each shot was nothing but net. Each layup was unopposed. By the end of the game, Mansfield walked off the court with a full tank of gas and a 60-40 win.
Leading Mansfield in points on the game was Makayla Strutton who rounded up 15 against the Rattlers. Hot on her heels in the points race was Danielle Lillie and Skylynn Harris who knocked down 14 points each in the game. Natalie Allison rolled up 8 points while Kiara Thomas, Brooke Wright, and Seven Sanderson rounded out the points bracket with 3 points each. Pulling in half of the points for the Lady Rattlers was Kiara Vasquez with 20 followed by Kylie Robinson and Jordyn Krigbaum with 10 each.
Being at the top is great from the front, but it puts a target on your back and the Lady Tigers are all too aware of that. Having beaten Acorn and Magazine, they currently have two of their three toughest opponents behind the eight ball. That leaves one more and it’ll be a “Mountain” of a game. Mansfield will look to clean sweep their first round of opponents Tuesday, January 12 when they host a Mountainburg Lady Dragons team who sets the basketball nets on fire.