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Mansfield Christian Boys' Basketball Schedule

(8-15,4-8)

 

 

 

12/2

Mans. Christian

46

@ Colonel Crawford

49

12/3

Clear Fork

51

@ Mansfield Christian

46

12/9

Mans. Christian

71

@ Danville

50

12/16

Loudonville

49

@ Mansfield Christian

59

12/20

Crestview

52

@ Mansfield Christian

64
12/23

Mans. Christian

30

@ Kidron CC

47

12/27

Mans. Christian

50

@ Hillsdale

70

12/30

Mans. St. Peter's

76

@ Mansfield Christian

42

1/21

Jones Leadership

33

@ Mansfield Christian

76

1/7

Crestline

46

@ Mansfield Christian

45

1/13

Mans. Christian

41

@ Lucas

49

1/14

Fredericktown

38

@ Mansfield Christian

41

1/17

New London

40

@ Mansfield Christian

37

1/20

Danville

43

@ Mansfield Christian

41

1/27

Mans. Christian

40

@ Loudonville

55

1/28

Mans. Christian

52

@ South Central

63

1/31

Plymouth

50

@ Mansfield Christian

56

2/3

Kidron CC

37

@ Mansfield Christian

21

2/10

Mans. Christian

42

@ Mans. St. Peter's

63

2/11

Mans. Christian

28

@ Ontario

45

2/17

Lucas

43

@ Mansfield Christian

47

2/18

Mans. Christian

63

@ Crestline

48

3/1

Wynford

47

Mansfield Christian

33

 

 

 

Lady Flames in State Semi Finals of Christian Tournament

  

          Mansfield Christian’s girls’ basketball team has advanced to the state semi finals of the Ohio Christian School Athletic Association basketball tournament.

          They play Dominion Academy on Friday afternoon at Ohio Christian University in Circleville, south of Columbus.

          Coach J.R. Wilson says being part of this tournament is a great opportunity for them.  “It is an amazing tournament that we are part of.  The Christian schools have our own state tournament and the girls made the final four.  So, we are in the semi-final on Friday against Dominion Academy.  If we win that we play in the finals at three o’clock on Saturday,” he said.

          They beat the top seed in the northern bracket, Mansfield Temple Christian to advance in the tournament.

          If they win Friday they will play either New Hope or Kinsway for the state title on Saturday afternoon.

          The Lady Flames have a very young team this year, but Wilson says they have come around this very nicely and they have gotten great senior leadership.  “I thought at the beginning of the season if we won one or two games we would be doing really well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Allie Maiyer our senior has just really stepped up and helped the young ones come along.  Honestly, the last four or five games have been the best the best games we have played.”

          Wilson says they will have to play well because Dominion is a talented team with some experience.  “They have only lost four games.  They didn’t lose any girls to graduation last year.  They are definitely a better team than they were last year.  We are hoping to be very competitive with them.  They have a Northridge girl that is a really nice ball player,” said Wilson.

 

Published 3/02/17

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Mansfield Christian Ready to Get Going

  

          It has been a week and half since the Mansfield Christian Flames have hit the floor for a game.  They face Wynford in a sectional semi-final game in division four on Wednesday night at Lexington High School.

          Without a game on the final week of the regular season, coach John Kurtz says it was nice to get some extra rest, but the players are excited to get it going.  “We were happy for the rest that is for sure and to just get a good full week of practice in that was kind of nice.  That was the first time I think I remember us being able to do that.  We really played well the last weekend and got two wins on that weekend.  So, we are glad we had the week, but the kids are also kind of chomping at the bit to get going.  It is kind of a little bit of both we are really to go, but we were also glad to have the rest,” said Kurtz.

          Mansfield Christian (8-14) has a lot youth in its lineup this year and Kurtz says those kids have gotten more confident as the season has gone a long.  “We really only have two juniors that play a lot of minutes then we start going down to sophomores and a lot of freshmen.  We did see growth and part of that growth comes with experience, but also those stages of growth are helped with a little confidence.  I felt last weekend gave our kids some confidence.  The kids are playing better, especially on the offensive end,” he said.

          Wynford (12-10) finished in fourth place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference this season.  Kurtz says the Royals are good in transition, have a number of three point shooters and get on the offensive boards strong.  “From my standpoint we kind of throw out the records because you are just playing one game on that given night and there are so many things that you have to pay attention to.  I think offensively they are very good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are very good in transition and they are good on the offensive glass.  Those are two of our biggest concerns.  They do shoot a lot of threes.  They guys that shoot them mainly are guys that have pretty good percentages on those shots.  There are three areas we are concerned with the offensive glass being one, transition, and three point shooting.  Those are all things we have spent a lot of time on over the last week.”

          Wynford has had several games this year in which they have scored 80 points or more.  Kurtz says they can’t let that happen, but he predicts the game won’t be in the 20’s either.  “Tournament is usually more of a slow down, more physical.  We may have a little bit of contrasting styles there, but when you get out on the court you just hope your kids are ready to play and play well.  Sometimes you have to adapt your game a little bit to how the game is being played.  We have played a little bit both ways this year.  Earlier on we played faster and then slower in the middle of the season.  We will just see how it goes,” he said.

 

Published 3/01/17

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Mansfield Christian Getting Better

  

          Mansfield Christian competes its regular season with two Mid-Buckeye Conference games this weekend at home against Lucas on Friday and at Crestline on Saturday.

          Last week, they played two of the better teams in North Central Ohio in Mansfield St. Peter’s and Ontario.  They lost both games (63-42) to St. Peter’s and (45-28) to Ontario, but coach John Kurtz thought they got better last week.  “I thought actually the scores on not indicative of the games.  I thought we played well in the second half of the St. Pete’s game.  We were even with them in the second half.  I know we had dug ourselves into a 20 point hole.  It just shows that your kids are resilient and aren’t going to mail it in at the end.  I was proud of them and I thought we played petty well there in the second half against St. Pete’s,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “In the Ontario game we just challenged our kids about battling, fighting and battling through the game.  Back to back weekends are tough.  Ontario is so well coached.  They have talented kids and we wanted to first be competitive and we wanted to learn and I think we accomplished both.  Although we lost by 17 we still felt like our kids were at least competitive in that game.”

          The Flames (6-14,2-8) play host to Lucas (12-7,8-3) in “MBC” game on Friday.  A Lucas win gives them second place in the league.  The Cubs won the first meeting (49-41) and Kurtz says their height will give his team some problems.  “They are more balanced and I think they play more kids.  They are playing seven, eight, nine kids that can get out there and defend and play on the varsity court.  They are seniors and they have a couple of kids that are pretty big, which will be a challenge for us.  I watched a couple of films this week and I think they are shooting the ball better than they have all year.  I thought they shot the ball really well against Loudonville.  They will be a real challenge for us.  This is one of their better teams,” said Kurtz.

          Christian plays at Crestline on Saturday night.  The Bulldogs have been inconsistent this season.  The Bulldogs won the first game (46-45) on January 7.  Kuttz says you aren’t sure what you are going to get.  “That is the toughest thing to prepare because you don’t know from night to night how things are going to go.  Even last year Crestline played us petty tough at the end of the year over there and it was a one point game here at our gym, something like that, it was a close game, about a month and half ago.  It is going to be interesting to see how we play on their court.  They are one of the bigger teams in the conference.  That in itself presents challenges for our kids.  We will get a chance to see how much we have improved since the first time we played them,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 2/17/17

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Mansfield Christian Hopes to do a lot of Learning this week

  

          If there is a tougher schedule in North Central Ohio this week this reporter hasn’t seen it.

          Mansfield Christian plays at Mansfield St. Peter’s, already the outright Mid-Buckeye Conference champion, on Friday night, and then visits Ontario, winners of 10 of their last 11, on Saturday night.

          Wow!!

          The Flames lost to Kidron Central Christian (37-21) in an “MBC” game last Friday.  John Kurtz says they were hurt by a consistent problem, the inability to score.  “That was one of the more odd games we have played this year.  We both were playing pretty slow.  The score kind of isn’t indicative of how the game was.  I think it was six with about four, five minutes to go in the game.  We tried to get back into it and couldn’t.  That has kind of been our biggest issue this year at times just not being able to score and that certainly could be a problem for us this weekend if things continue,” said Kurtz.

          Mansfield Christian (6-13,2-7) plays at rival Mansfield St. Peter’s (17-2,10-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday night.  It was the Spartans who grabbed the early lead and beat the Flames (76-42) in their first meeting of the season December 30.

          Kurtz says they can not afford to get behind early like they did the last time.  “That is kind of what happened out first time around at home.  We got into a hole in the first half that was just impossible for us to dig out of.  Some of it was us, but a lot of it was them.  They can score in bunches and everybody knows that, so that makes it really tough to guard against those eight to ten point runs in a minute, minute and a half,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They put you in the toughest spot.  That would be the thing we are most concerned with is trying to guard against giving up eight to 10 points in a two minute span where it just tough for us to overcome that kind of deficit.”

          Turnovers are killers against St. Peter’s because Kurtz says they turn those over into quick points.  “They are incredibly efficient.  When they turn you over, we charted it last year, and it is pretty incredible how many times they turn you over and turn it into two or three points.  They do a really good job in transition and make really good decisions.  Their kids just finish so well at the rim.  We just don’t want to turn the ball over against them because when you do they are pretty fast to the rim,” he said.

          Christian plays at Ontario (12-5) on Saturday night in a non-league game.  Kurtz says it will be difficult for them to compete with the Ontario athletes.  “They are very good and when I saw them against Sandusky I thought their guards can really create space going down the lane, they are strong kids.  They have the big kids which causes a big problem for us inside because that is were a lot of our youth is at.  Both of these teams are so quality and well coached they just don’t make very many mistakes.  It is just going to be a real challenge for kids of this age, but on the other hand it is also chance to see where you want to go and get to see kids that are very, very talented and put a lot of work in.  I think it is a good thing for our young kids to how those kids worked to get to that level and what we need to do to get to that level,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 2/08/17

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Still Consistency For Flames

  

          Mansfield Christian can do some very good things, but they don’t do them for long enough and that is what is costing them games at this point in the season.

          Most of that has to do with their youth.

          They lost to Loudonville (55-40) in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night and were beaten by South Central (63-52) in a non conference game on Saturday.

          Coach John Kurtz felt they did some good things on both nights, but more so on Saturday.  “They were two totally different games.  We got behind early in the Loudonville game and we struggled to get out of the hole there and struggled to make shots in that game.  I was really pleased with some of the things I saw our kids do in that game.  Then Saturday night we played much better, a more consistent game.  Our biggest struggle right now is putting four quarters together and I felt like in the South Central game offensively we were more consistent over four quarters,” said Kurtz.

          Kurtz says they are working on some things in practice that can make them a better team and the biggest thing is being able to take that to game floor.  “That is part of young guys feeling more comfortable in games and giving them things in practice to do that then translates to games.  I would say that is the most difficult part of it.  It is consistency and that is why at the high school level you don’t see a lot of freshmen playing because of that reason, but, in our situation this year that is just something that we have to work through,” he said.

          Mansfield Christian (5-12) hosts Plymouth (2-12) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Kurtz says Plymouth has been inconsistent too, but if you catch them on a good night they can be pretty good.  “When you look at film at games where they have had some of their better games they look like a team that can score the basketball and they are pretty physical around the glass.  I saw them against Crestview and I was impressed with how well they hit the boards and rebounded.  They have some kids that can really shoot it if you give them space,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Those are the challenges and those are the things that you have to get your young kids to recognize and understand.  We talked to our kids (Monday) night in prepping for these guys they have kids that can shoot the ball and a good solid post player inside that is good on the offensive glass.  Those are the things that you have to prepare for.  It seemed like (Monday) night we spent more time on the little things that we thought like we needed to do that can translate.”

 

Published 1/31/17

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Mansfield Christian Focusing on Improvement

  

          Mansfield Christian is trying to build with an eye on the postseason tournament, which is just about a month away.

          They play at Loudonville in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday and at South Central in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Last weekend, they lost another close one to Danville (43-41) in conference play and then beat Jones Leadership Academy (76-33) on Saturday night.

          Coach John Kurtz says they continue work hard, but they haven’t been very good at making shots in pressure situations.  “We played petty well against Danville I thought.  It has kind of been the same theme all year we struggled to make shots, especially at the end of games.  I think that is a product of our youth.  The kids played really hard in those games.  I guess we see improvement in our kids over these games.  The New London game I thought we played one of our better games.  Danville sat in a 1-3-1 zone and they are a pretty big team and it was good for them to do that and we didn’t shoot particularly well that night.  Saturday night we were able to put some points on the board.  I think our kids relaxed a little bit more in that game and that was good for our kids,” said Kurtz.

          He says they have to become better at making plays against a zone defense because that is what they have seen a lot of this year.  “It is pretty obvious what teams try to do.  One they try to keep (Jared) out of the paint and they try to keep Kyle (Kurtz) from shooting threes.  A lot of times they can do that by setting in the paint in a zone.  We have really spent a lot of time working on that and I believe we are getting better at that each week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That has kind of been the formula with a lot of these teams, especially in the Mid-Buckeye where they are playing a lot of zone against us.  Jared is though to handle one on one, especially in man.  What we are working on is we are getting more contributions from other players.  Some of these freshmen are coming in and making shots and that is kind of making it easier for us to run our offense.”

          Mansfield Christian (5-8,2-5) is at Loudonville (3-11,1-6) for an “MBC” game on Friday night.  The Redbirds lost their last game in conference action to “MBC” leader Mansfield St. Peter’s (71-55) last Friday.  After losing by more than 30 the first time they played the Spartans, Kurtz says that is an illustration of how Loudonville is getting better.  “Coach Seobe and I talked early in the season and they were kind of struggling a little bit and I said there are a lot of new faces with your team and it is going to take some time for them to learn to play together and that is what they are doing now.  He has done a good job meshing a couple of players that have experience with some younger guys.  They must have played very well against St. Pete’s to have that kind of score and that kind of improvement.  You definitely have to congratulate their kids on improving and playing a lot better.  That is going to be a tough game with Loudonville playing that well,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 1/25/17

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Flames Looking Forward

  

          Mansfield Christian has got the car pointed in the right direction again and after some personnel changes seems to be making progress again.

          They play host to Danville in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night.  They are at home for Jones Leadership Academy on Saturday in a non-conference play.

          The Flames played really well for most of the game in a (40-37) loss to Firelands Conference leader New London on Tuesday night.

          Coach John Kurtz says there are a lot of good things that can be gained from that game.  “We played very well Tuesday night against New London and probably our best game to this point.  We had about a three minute dry spell in the fourth quarter that cost us the game.  I was very pleased with how we battled.  Our decision making, which had been suspect with some of younger players, is getting better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We had a lot of good positive things that came out of that New London game.  I am pleased with where we are headed, still a lot of room for improvement, but we see progress.”

          Mansfield Christian (4-7,2-4) hosts Danville (5-7,3-4) in an “MBC” game on Friday night.  Kurtz is concerned a little with the physicalness of Danville.  “If you get in their kind of game they are pretty tough on you.  They play a very physical game, more post oriented obviously that plays into their favor.  Our young kids just have to play well in games like that.  We played well Tuesday night, but that doesn’t mean they will play well this Friday.  We will certainly have to be ready to go on Friday night,” he said.

          Jones Leadership Academy is a bit of an unknown quantity, but still Kurtz says they have to be ready to play, especially after having played on Friday night.  “When you have back to backs, at this point in the season you are getting used to them, but they are never very easy, especially when you have played New London on Tuesday.  You hope you come out of the Friday night game not too banged up and you played well and it will carry over into Saturday’s game.  It is a newer program, it is three years old, something like that.  They do have some kids that can play.  At this stage where we are at in our program we certainly don’t look past anybody and we want to be ready to go and play well both nights,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 1/20/17

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Christian Trying to Pick up the Pieces

  

          Mansfield Christian takes a three game losing streak into a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Saturday night at the Furnace against the Crestline Bulldogs.

          The Flames got behind early and were hammered (76-42) by Mansfield St. Peter’s in a conference game last week.

          Coach John Kurtz says they aren’t scoring enough points right now to be competitive with good teams.  “We have not played very well.  I would also say that we have played some pretty tough teams in some pretty tough spots.  We have not been able to score.  We have not shot the ball very well in any of those three games, which is pretty obvious when you look at the scores.  I think there are a number of things involved there.  We just have not been moving the ball as well as we have earlier on.  Our young kids have a lost a little bit of their confidence.  This is kind of what happens when you are young,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “In all of my years when you are young like this you go through these stretches where you have to battle adversity and we are certainly going through some of that.  It will be interesting to see how we come out on the other side of that.  We need to get a win under our belt and we need to play well I think.  That is kind of the goal going into this weekend.”

          Right now, the Flames aren’t always getting good shots and when they are they aren’t making a good percentage, according to Kurtz.  “I think in the Hillsdale game and the Kidron game I felt like we got good looks.  St. Pete’s was a little bit different.  I don’t think we made the extra pass in that game and to their credit they are very good.  It was a combination of things and some of that is just the experience of what is a good shot.  I told our guys (Wednesday) in practice it is just not the shot, but the decision to take the shot or the decision to move the ball one more pass could be just a little bit better for us,” he said.

          Crestline (1-6,0-3) plays at Mansfield Christian (3-5,2-2) on Saturday night.  The Bulldogs lost a non-conference game (68-47) to South Central on Tuesday night.

          Kurtz believes Crestline has turned the corner.  “I have seen them a couple of times on film and I think what sticks out is I think they are a pretty good rebounding team.  I think that if they can get the ball in the paint they are pretty dangerous to you and that is a real big concern for us.  We certainly want to speed the game up a little bit.  A little bit of our problem during this stretch is that was have slowed way down in our play and we need to speed up a little bit.  They basically have everybody back from last year, so they have kids that have experience.  I am sure that it’s just a matter of putting it together.  I have watched some of their scores where they have put two or three really good quarters together.  We certainly don’t want that to happen against us,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 1/05/17

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Holy War, Part One

  

          Mansfield Christian hosts Mansfield St. Peter’s in a big early season game in the Mid-Buckeye Conference at the Furnace on Friday night.

          St. Peter’s leads the Flames by a game in the conference standings so far.

          However, Mansfield Christian has lost its last two games to Kidron Central Christian (47-30) in league play last Friday and Hillsdale (70-50) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Coach John Kurtz says they are dealing with some injuries and really didn’t play very well the last two times out.  “I think we got a little dinged up in the Crestview game before we went to Kidron.  Kyle (Kurtz) and Jared (McPeak) both got hurt in those games.  We didn’t play very well at Kidron and then (Tuesday) night Hillsdale played a good game and we didn’t play very well.  We kind of lost our identity a little bit on defense and didn’t play very well on that end and that hurt us,” he said.

          Kurtz knows they are going to have to play well in order to stay in the game on Friday night.  “St. Pete’s has a lot talent and a lot of returning players and a lot of kids that can beat you in a number of ways.  They present a lot of problems for you on defense and they are playing very well right now,” he said.

          He says they are aggressive on defense and this season the Spartans execute better in the half court.  “They have a lot of different guys that can score and can shoot.  They put more pressure on you defensively.  They are able to put pressure on you defensively in a number of different ways in transition.  They are a lot better now in the half court than they were last year,” he said.

          When Mansfield Christian (3-4,2-1) plays Mansfield St. Peter’s (7-1,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the small school division,  they call it the “Holy War,” but Kurtz says you can not win this game purely on emotion.  “These kind of games you very familiar with each other because you see each other a couple of times a year and we play a lot of common opponents so we see a lot of each other on film,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “In the end it always comes down to talent and execution and you have to be able to do one or both.  In this game you have to be able to defend at a high level and on the offensive end we have to be able to execute and be affective there.”

          It is fair to call St. Peter’s the favorite in this game, but Kurtz says it will be a good experience for them and one they are looking forward too.  “The last two games last year the game were down to the last minute or last two minutes of the game.  We weren’t able to finish those off, but we played very tough.  It will be a great experience for our kids.  We have a lot of young kids that will get a chance to experience this kind of game.  So, we look forward to it,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 12/29/16

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Six Girls’ Games at Furnace on Tuesday

  

          Mansfield Christian girls’ basketball coach J.R. Wilson had the idea of bringing a top quality girls’ basketball holiday to the Mansfield area and here it is.

          Six games will be contested at the Furnace at Mansfield Christian on Tuesday beginning at 10 in the morning. 

          He says he got the idea for the “MCS Holiday Showcase” from the highly successful “Classic in the Country” held at Berlin Hiland on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in mid-January.  “The idea actually came from an event down in Berlin, Ohio.  They do such an amazing job out there of bringing in top tier talent in and basically that is what I wanted to do because in our area had no holiday showcase for girls’ basketball,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Not that we are trying to compete with the “Classic in the Country, they do a great job.  I am trying to bring some excitement to our area girls’ teams and have some of our local teams always participate in it and bring in some talent from outside of our area also.”

          Mansfield Senior, Mansfield St. Peters, Mansfield Christian and some other local and out of the area teams are competing.  Wilson gives us the line-up for the day.  “We have local teams, no doubt.  We start out at 10 o’clock with our team against a school from the Columbus area in Harvest Prep, following that we have Loudonville and East Knox, a couple of local teams, then at 1:20 we have Philo, from down around Zanesville, against South Central.  Our three o’clock is the Garaway girls, always in the regionals, against Orrville, then five o’clock Mansfield Senior versus North Olmstead out of the Cleveland area.  The nightcap has Riverview against St. Peter’s,” said Wilson.

          It will be the only time this winter for Mansfield area fans to take in Orrville, now former members of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Mark Alberts Sr. always fields a very strong team.

          Plus, Wilson points out it is an opportunity to see the outstanding talent that is Mansfield Senior’s Erica Johnson, who just scored 33 last week in a win over Clear Fork.  “We have some nice talent in the area.  Mansfield Senior has a girl Erica Johnson, who is going to Ohio University.  There is just some really good talent.  I would just encourage the basketball enthusiast in the area to just come out and watch.  This is from our back yard here in Mansfield.  It is a great time to be able to come out and really watch and enjoy some girls’ hoops,” he said.

 

Published 12/26/16

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Flames Young Guys Doing the Job

  

          Mansfield Christian has won both of its Mid-Buckeye Conference games and they have done it was a number of first time varsity players seeing considerable action during games.

          They host high scoring Crestview in a non-conference game at the Furnace on Tuesday night.

          The Flames (2-2,2-0) beat Loudonville (59-49) last Friday and coach John Kurtz says they had some of their younger kids playing some really good minutes in the game.  “Friday night was a really good example that in a couple times in the game I had two and three freshmen out there.  We got into some serious foul trouble with both of my big kids and so we had to play these young kids and I think the thing we are most encouraged by is they were productive in the minutes that they played and played a key role in us winning that game,” he said.

          The game against Loudonville was one where things didn’t go that well on offense for the Flames, but they did enough good things overall to win the game.  “(Friday) night was one of those nights when we didn’t play particularly well.  Some of that was because of what Loudonville tried to do to us and some of it was the fact that we just didn’t shoot the ball very well.  There was not a very good rhythm in the game offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com, “There were a lot of fouls called and it was disruptive to having any flow on offense.  I will say those kids were playing really hard and I thought even though they did make some mistakes they were very instrumental in us getting the win.”

          Mansfield Christian also has some players that have logged some minutes at the varsity level and Kurtz says they have provided the leadership that this team has needed.   “For the first time since I have been at Mansfield Christian our experienced kids, especially our captains, have taken on a real ownership of the team, and done a great job of making sure they young kids understand the expectations and pushing them.  I have some really great kids come through, but I don’t remember having kids as verbal as having kids reach their expectations.  For that we have been very pleased,” said Kurtz.

        Crestview (3-1) won a pair of Firelands Conference games last week, beating Mapleton (47-42) on Friday and Plymouth (53-44) on Saturday.  Cougars coach Shawn Spencer told Swanonsports.com earlier this month they want to score between seven and eight seconds.

          Kurtz says they are going to have play sound defense.  They is really what got them the win last Friday.  “We told our kids we didn’t play well (Friday) night, but we did think in the second half we did put our foot down defensively.  I thought that was a good sign for us because on a night that we struggled offensively we were still able play very hard on defense and we were able to pull it out.  Certainly there are a lot of things that we had to work on, but I was happy with the fact that our young kids got to be contributors in a game that we kind of had to muddle through to win, but we did win,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 12/20/16

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Christian Off to Good Start

 

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          Mansfield Christian is off to solid start with a mix of young kids and veterans.

          They play at home against Loudonville in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night at the Furnace.

          A (71-50) victory on the road last Friday at Danville was an excellent performance by the Flames.  Coach John Kurtz says his upperclassmen have stepped into new leadership roles and his younger players have filled the gaps.  “We have been real happy with the progress.  We have seen a lot of good things out of the young guys.  Then we have some guys that are returning that have stepped up their game.  They are definitely playing at a higher level than they did last year.  We are happy about that, but obviously at this time of year you always have room for improvement.  We are happy with the work ethic and the progress to this point,” he said.

          The Flames (1-2,1-0) bring back three players that played quite a bit last year at the varsity level.  Kurtz says those players have worked hard to improve their games.  “We bring back Kyle (Kurtz) Jared (McPeak) and J,P. (Trueblood) and all three of them played a considerable amount last year for us.  We lost Brandon Mount and he was an excellent scorer for us at the time.  They collectively have picked up a lot of that load.  J.P. has done a really good job on the boards.  They have experience and they understand what is asked of them at this point and I think they have stepped up their games to a higher level,” said Kurtz.

          Loudonville (0-4,0-1) has started the season trying to finding their game a little bit and they were throttled by Mansfield St. Peter’s (92-56) in a conference game last Friday.

          Kurtz says the Redbirds have a lot of young players and they are trying to find their legs early in the season, but they have talent.   “They bring back Shawn (Swindall) and I think he broke his leg maybe or his ankle in football.  He has probably struggled to get back in form.  Having an injury like that it is probably difficult to get back in shape.  He is an outstanding player and a great scorer.  I think their guards are good.  I think they have a lot of new guys in different spots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I am sure they are kind in the same boat we are as far as kids learning new positions and understanding their roles.  I think they will be fine later on in the season.  They have struggled a little bit early, but they also have played some pretty good teams.”

 

Published 12/14/16

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Mansfield Christian Shows Well

  

          Mansfield Christian has a lot of youth and inexperience this year, but they are quickly becoming a pretty good team.

          They lost two games last weekend, but really had a chance to win both of them.  They led with a minute to play before losing at Colonel Crawford (49-46) on Friday night.  At home on Saturday night they took Clear Fork of the Ohio Cardinal Conference to end before losing (51-46) to the Colts.

          Coach John Kurtz says he was pretty happy with what he saw from the Flames last weekend.  “I thought our kids played really well in both games, especially away at Colonel Crawford.  I just thought our play was exceptional.  We had the ball with about eight to 10 seconds in the game and had a chance to win there.  We were even up with about a minute to go in the game. We really fought back we were down eight in that game before they came back.  So, I was really proud on the young kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It didn’t seem like the stage was too big for them and they played really well.  Then on Saturday we played a tough Clear Fork team most of the way until the end there.  We are pretty pleased with our progress to this point.”

          With young kids there are going to be peaks and valleys in their play.  Kurtz says as a coach you have to understand that these kids are giving you all they have.  “Like with any young player you seem some glimpses of maybe what they can do and then you will see lapses on defense and mistakes.  You see the good parts but also the inconsistent play of young kids can be a little bit frustrating.  I think from a coaching standpoint you have to understand that those kids are going really hard for you.  They have to learn to play and sometimes experience is the best teacher,” he said.

          Mansfield Christian (0-2) opens play in the Mid-Buckeye Conference on Friday night with a trip to Danville (1-0,1-0) to play the Blue Devils.  Danville beat Crestline (68-48) in a conference game that served as their season opener last Saturday.

          Kurtz describes the Blue Devils as typical Danville team that is going to be physical.  “We got to see film on them from their first game against Crestline, another Mid-Buckeye Conference team.  I don’t think Crestline was full strength at the time in that game.  I think they had a injury.  Danville certainly looked like they typically do they are big.  The (Skyler) Durbin kid is a really nice player.  He seems to have gotten a little bit bigger and handles the ball a little bit more then he did last year.  Everybody knows they are really a challenge when you go down there to play,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 12/09/16

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Flames Counting on Guard Play

  

          Mansfield Christian will be young at some of the positions at least to start the year this season, but they clearly have some potential to become a solid team.

          Coach John Kurtz says there were some ups and downs during scrimmage play this month.  “We are still very inconsistent in our play.  We have had some very good scrimmages were we have looked good.  We have had some where we have had some quarters where we have not looked good.  I think that is kind of to be expected, but we seemed to have made some progress with our young kids.  We hope it continues.  I think it is probably going to be a little while until our kids really understand the level they need to play, but we are certainly improving and we are happy about that,” he said.

          Kurtz says the Flames guards, their most experienced group, needs to get them in position to be able to score the basketball.  “I think that would be our strong suit right now.  We have Kyle (Kurtz) and Jared (McPeak) both back and they have a full year of experience with Jared being the point guard last year.  We feel really good right there.  I think that is where we are lining up best right now.  They have done a good job of not turning it over and getting it to the right people.  It is just every once in a while right now we are having some turnovers because kids aren’t where they should be or where they are expected to be.  That is one thing we have been pretty pleased with,” said Kurtz.

          Mansfield Christian opens the season this weekend with a game Friday night at Colonel Crawford, of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, and Saturday night at “The Furnace” against Clear Fork, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Kurtz says Colonel Crawford may be a little young like they are, but he knows the Eagles are always good and their gym is a tough place to have success.  “It is always interesting at this time of year, that first weekend, because you just don’t have much film on people.  I know they have some young players that are going to step up, so I am sure they probably have some kids like us that are young and are trying to get ready for the season at the varsity level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have a big kid that I guess is really improved.  I think that is going to be a challenge for us obviously.  I know they had some really talented eighth graders, now ninth graders, coming up through.  Until you get out there and play that first game it is just hard to know if your kids are ready.  Dave does just such an incredible job with that program and it is really tough to play there in their gym.”

 

Published 11/29/16

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Mansfield Christian Girls Very Young

 

          This season is going to learning process in a lot of ways for the Mansfield Christian Lady Flames.

          They open the campaign on Saturday night against Lima Temple Christian in a non-conference game.

          Head coach J.R. Wilson says he has seen a lot of improvement from his young squad here this month during preseason play.  “We are very young, but so far in the scrimmages that we have had, and definitely the practices, our girls are starting to improve just daily and that is what we are wanting,” he said.

          Many of the players on the Lady Flames varsity roster were in junior high just last year.  Wilson says they have to understand that the game is coming at them at lot faster.  “Right now we have so many young players that don’t have the experience at the high school level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Coming from the junior high to the high school level it is definitely a different pace to the game.  The girls everyday at practice they are trying to get better, and is the most important part.”

          It is the little things that the Lady Flames have to continue to improve, including passing the ball better to avoid turnovers.  “For example the passing of the ball and stuff is so much quicker and if they don’t step up to receive a pass the other girls can get in there and they are off to the races.  It doesn’t seem like much, but passing the ball around a little quicker, and throw harder passes, that is huge,” said Wilson.

 

Published 11/23/16

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Flames Young, but Athletic

  

          It is going to be a bit of a rebuilding year at Mansfield Christian, but the blocks appear to be there to be able to structure a good team.

          After another long soccer season that resulted in a loss in the state semi finals last week, basketball coach John Kurtz says they have just been able to get together what they believe will be their varsity unit.  “We have only had our kids since last Thursday.  Some of them weren’t able to come in then.  We had a scrimmage against Lex and it was a little rough, but we are getting back in shape.  We are getting more offense in.  We have a lot of young kids, so it has been a little interesting here the first few days,” said Kurtz,

          There are about 10 days left in the preseason and Kurtz says his young players, some of whom were in junior high uniforms just a year ago, need to adjust to the speed of the varsity game.  “We have our scrimmages set up, but we just have kids that don’t understand the speed of the play.  That is what you have your preseason and your scrimmages for.  We see progress, but we have a ways to go,” he said.

          Mansfield Christian teams under Kurtz have been known for their hard nosed style of defense and their half court offense.  Kurtz says this year he believes they are going to be athletic and that is going to help them score.  “We are a lot more athletic than we have been in the past, which I think is kind of interesting.  I think that will help us in what we want to do and what we want to become before the year is over,” he told Swankonsports.com during practice at the Furnace on Tuesday, “Right now it is just hard to say.  We have handled the ball really well in scrimmages, but we have not been able to finish.  That is something we are going to have to focus on as the year goes forward.”

 

Published 11/16/16

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Mansfield Christian Squares off with Wynford

 

          Mansfield Christian tangles with Wynford in a first round tournament game in division four on Wednesday night at Lexington High School.

          The two teams have had similar seasons in getting off to a somewhat slower start and then really playing well over the last six, seven weeks of the regular season.

          Mansfield Christian (14-8) has won seven of its last 10 and coach John Kurtz says they have been playing well, but they need to be in top form on Wednesday night.  "As coaches we know that when you get to the tournament a lot of different things can happen.  So, we are excited about the tournament and being in the tournament, but yet we also know you have to be playing your best basketball and playing your best basketball that night.  It is important to be playing well at the end of the season, but also be playing well in that last game," said Kurtz.

          Wynford (13-9) had a pretty good streak going too before losing three in row before beating Bucyrus (74-51) last Friday.  Kurtz says the Royals are taking some momentum into the game.  "You can see the improvement in their team from that little bit after Christmas area to the end.  I think at one time they had won six over seven in a row.  So, they have played much better and they shoot the ball very well.  I think they are playing well at the end of the season and probably feel good about this game and going into the tournament the right way.  They are playing some of their best basketball right now," he said.

          Kurtz adds that they Royals have a couple of excellent perimeter shooters and some beef inside.  "They have two kids, (Braxton) Tea and (Alex) Crall, the two main guys that do the shooting, are really, really, good.  Crall can make shots with you right on top of him, he is that kind of shooter.  They are streaky, we have seen film when they are just unbelievable," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "That is the kind of team we are preparing for, a one that has made a lot of shots.  They made a lot of shots against Crawford at Crawford, which is a tough place to play.  So, we definitely know they can shoot the ball.  They also have some kids that are pretty big inside.  They are kind of a duel threat."

          In a game like this before the number six seed Wynford and a number seven seed Mansfield Christian is likely going to come down to the final moments.  Kurtz says that makes the little things very important.  "All week we have talked to our kids about the little things, free throws, and making the extra pass and do all of the little things you have to do at tournament time.  Typically in this area at tournament time the game slows down a little bit, sometimes it becomes more physical.  In these games that you have a six-seven match up it is typical that those games are tight.  The team that maybe makes the fewest mistakes or can make that play that you need down the stretch," said Kurtz.

 

Published 2/24/16

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Mansfield Christian Has to Stop St. Peter's Break

 

          Mansfield Christian hosts Mansfield St. Peter's on Friday night at "the Furnace" in a game that most certainly will decide the Mid-Buckeye Conference this season.

          Right now, St. Peter's leads Mansfield Christian by a game in the conference standings.  The Flames also play Crestline, winless in the conference, on Saturday night.

          The Flames (13-7,8-2) have won eight of their last ten, including a (56-38) win over Fredericktown, in non-conference play, on Tuesday night.  Coach John Kurtz says they have been running on all cylinders since the new year.  "We have played really well.  I guess other than the night we played Ontario.  The Ontario night they really jumped on us and are a really good team.  We were not able to get back in that one, but for the most part for the last month, month and a half we have played really well," he said.

          St. Peter's (18-3,10-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat Mansfield Christian (54-50) last month.  Kurtz says they are very good in three areas in particular.  "I think they are really good at transition, I don't think that is any surprise, any new revelation.  I think they get the ball out and they have really good finishers around the rim.  I think that is something you at least have to try and control somewhat," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, " They are very good on offense.  They shoot the ball.  They run their stuff really well.  Then on defense they are really good at pressuring the ball.  They try and speed the game up a little bit.  Those are the things that stick out quite a bit on film.  One of those three areas they have used all year to win games."

          When it comes to defending the Spartans fast break, Kurtz says it is all hands on deck.  He says everybody has to get back and defend the basket.  "You have to get back as a group and defend.  They just don't send two or three guys that can finish.  Really all five of their guys can finish the fast break.  And they are quick.  Those are all things that translate to them being tough in transition.  It definitely has to be a team effort to control them," he said.

          There is going to be a lot of emotion in this game on both sides, but Kurtz says you can't live on that and expect it to carry you to a win.  He says they have to execute like they have been.  "That is something our kids have been pretty good at.  We are not a big rah, rah team.  We are not a team that gets really high or really low.  Even after our Ontario loss I thought our kids came right back against Fredericktown and were ready to go.  We have talked about there may be runs in the game it is hard to know.  You have to be able to control that and control yourself and stay focused on the job at hand," said Kurtz.

 

Published 2/19/16

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Mansfield Christian Feeling Good, Playing Well

 

          Mansfield Christian is a team that has found itself and is really playing some pretty good basketball.

          The Flames have won eight of their last 10 games.

          Coach John Kurtz says he really pleased with how his kids are playing, especially in a (62-50) win over Hillsdale last Saturday.  "We have really progressed.  I think the Hillsdale game Saturday night showed how far we have come.  We have watched some film from back early in the season and a lot of ways we don't look the same as we did then. Certainly we give the credit to the kids and how hard they have worked.  We beat a very good Hillsdale team, there is no doubt about that.  We have a rough weekend coming up this weekend and we just hope to keep things going," said Kurtz.

          Kurtz says they have gotten very good leadership this year and he says the players are really working hard.  "It is a great group of kids. Some of these seniors we have had now for four years, so the expectation level is high.  I think we have had good leadership this year, our captains have done a great job pushing us in practice.  We have a group of kids that seem the get along really well and play well together.  I think that all works hand in hand for you to improve," he said.

          Loudonville (9-9,4-6) plays host to the Flames (11-6,7-2) on Friday night.  The first meeting went double overtime before Christian won (79-72) in early January.  Kurtz says they expect a real battle.  "We have told our kids all week that we are preparing the Loudonville team that beat St. Pete's early in the year.  I just think on a given night if they get going they can just score a lot of points," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They have a lot of weapons and they are good in their gym.  There are so many things that go into this.  We had a close game at home.  We are preparing for the best Loudonville team and we think it is going to be a very good game."

          The Flames trail arch rival Mansfield St. Peter's by a game in the Mid-Buckeye Conference standings and play them next week, but Kurtz says they aren't concerned about that now.  "It has kind been our philosophy for the last 11 games we are just looking at that next game on the schedule.  Today we are preparing for Loudonville and that is the game we are preparing for.  We don't want to look too far down the road because that can get you into trouble.  We are just concerned with Loudonville and how good they can be at home," he said.

          Mansfield Christian plays at Northern Ohio League co-leader Ontario (16-3), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Saturday night.  Kurtz says the Warriors are very good on defense.  "We certainly know Ontario is a very good team, a very good program.  Joe does a phenomenal job over there.  You look at their team on paper and they have so many weapons, it is not just the five that are playing, but it the four or five that come off the bench and we just don't see much difference in the kids that come off to ones that are playing.  I think defensively in the half court they are outstanding position wise and the way their pressure the ball.  It is one the better defensively Ontario teams that I have seen.  They are always good, but this one just seems to be a little special," said Kurtz.

 

Published 2/12/16

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Mansfield Christian is a Good Clutch Team

 

          Mansfield Christian has won seven of its nine games since the New Year's holiday and they are poised to do some pretty good things this year.

          They beat Lucas in overtime (57-53) on Friday and Kidron Central Christian (34-31) in Mid-Buckeye Conference games last weekend to keep themselves in the conference race, a game behind rival Mansfield St. Peter's. 

          Coach John Kurtz says it was kind of an ugly game on Saturday night, but one they found a way to win.  "It was a hard fought game.  You could tell that are kids had had a game Friday night that was a little bit draining. We hung on again and won.  We had about a 10 point lead in the third quarter and it got a little bit closer in the fourth.  It was pretty ugly the whole way.  We made some free throws late to seal it up.  We have had a lot of close games lately and that was another one," he said.

          The plodding style that Kidon plays can be difficult for teams, including Mansfield Christian, to deal with, but Kurtz says they have been pretty good at the end of games.  "That style of play is not something that I guess we like to coach against or play against.  You have to adapt to who you are paying and who they are and they play that style.  Our kids don't really panic at the end of games and our kids are really controlled," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We kind of have knack for getting to the free throw line in those situations.  We haven't been a great free throw shooting team, but we have been a good one, especially late in fourth quarters we have been pretty good."

          Mansfield Christian (9-6) plays at Plymouth (5-11) in a non conference game on Tuesday night.  Plymouth is in the bottom half of the Firelands Conference, but they have wins over two pretty good teams in South Central (65-56) and New London (50-45.)  Kurtz says the Rig Red has been playing to its strengths and they can be tough to deal with on their home floor.  "They are very good at home.  I think that they are much better than what their record looks like.  I was at the New London game and they played a good game, a controlled game, limited their mistakes and were able to defend well enough, especially against New London's best player that they were able to get the win.  It is a very good opponent with the tradition there with good runs in the tournament in the past.  There is a lot of tradition and good play that comes from that program," said Kurtz.

 

Published 2/02/16

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Christian Has to Keep Winning

 

          Mansfield Christian trails Mansfield St. Peter's by a game in the Mid-Buckeye Conference standings and to make the rematch with their arch rivals on February 19 mean anything they have to keep winning.

          They play lost to Lucas on Friday and Kidron Central Christian on Saturday in conference games.  They need to win both.

          They won at Danville (59-56) last Friday and coach John Kurtz says they did what they had to do at the end of the game.  "It was a hard fought game.  It came down late in the game we had to make a couple of stops and then we made a lot of free throws in the fourth quarter.  I think we made 17 free throws in the fourth quarter.  It was a good, solid win for us.  Danville is a good team and especially good at home," he said.

          Defense has been the cornerstone of the Mansfield Christian program and Kurtz believes the execution on that end of the court is getting better for the Flames.  "I don't think we played great at Danville, but I think we have played well.  I think we still have a little improvement to do there, but overall pretty pleased with the progress we have made on defense," he said.

          Lucas (4-8,0-5) pays a visit to "The Furnace" on Friday night to play the Flames (7-6,5-2) in a conference game.  Mansfield Christian trailed early, but won the first meeting between the two (60-46) on December 11.  Kurtz says the Cubs are a much improved team this year.  "They are diffidently much improved.  I think people forget that they have a lot of kids back from last year's team.  They are competitive and more physical.  I think the thing that stands out to me is they don't turn the ball over as much as they used to.  All of those things translate to you being a lot closer in games.  We expect a fight.  We expect a really good game.  This weekend certainly has bearing in the conference.  These are very important games for us," said Kurtz.

          Kidron Central Christian (6-4,6-2) beat the Flames the first time they played (44-32) on December 18.  Kurtz says they must make better decisions and they have to shoot better than they did that night at Kidron.  "I think we are a different team than we were then.  That was early in the year and we didn't shoot the ball particularly well and our decision making I didn't think in that game was particularly good," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Not to take anything away from them.  Everybody knows Kidron is a hard place to play.  They come in an they set in a zone and they limit your looks and they kind of make you take shots sometimes that are a little out of your comfort zone.  So, we have to make better decisions.  When we play them we certainly have to shoot the ball better."

 

Published 1/27/16

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Mansfield Christian With Tough Schedule this week

 

          Mansfield Christian has an important Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday and two interesting non conference games against Firelands Conference opponents this week.

          Last Friday, they feel out of a share of the conference lead when they lost a tough one to arch rival Mansfield St. Peter's (54-50) on the road.  Still, coach John Kurtz thought they did a lot of good things.  "I think our kids played pretty well in that game other than a little spell in the fourth quarter where we had some untimely turnovers, but other than that I thought our kids played really well.  For the sake of harping on the same thing, but think I see progress out of our kids.  We are learning how to play the game a couple of different ways offensively, so there has been a little bit of a learning curve there.  I saw some good things with our post play and I saw some good things with our guard play.  In those two areas that we have really been working we showed improvement," said Kurtz.

          The Flames (5-5) will be at New London (8-3) for a non-conference game.  The Wildcats had a week in which they lost to Plymouth (50-45) on Thursday and then hammered Crestview (96-65) on Saturday.  Kurtz says they are tough, especially at their place.  "We looked at this game a couple of weeks ago and had said that this is going to be a tough game.  They are always good at home.  Back in my Firelands Conference days just knew they were going to give you a good game there.  When I saw that score from the weekend, 96, wow that is just set you back a little bit that they got that many.  It just shows that on a certain night they can be very good, especially form the perimeter," said Kurtz.

          As the 96 points seems to speak to, Kurtz says New London has a lot of players that score.  "They have a least two kids that I think are very good in both areas right there.  They can either takes the ball to the rim or they can shoot it.  If they get going the flood gates come upon a little bit.  You just have to be careful that they don't see a couple go in early.  I think that is key for us to defend well early and I hope we can do that over there," he said.

          Mansfield Christian (5-5,4-2) is at Danville (4-6,2-2) in an "MBC" game on Friday.  The Flames beat Danville (49-42) 10 days ago.  Kurtz predicts they are in for another battle.  "It was a hard fought game at home that we pulled out in the end with some free throws.  That place is very hard to play.  Danville goes to Loudonville and really controls that game.  We knew this would be a tough game away," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The conference is so balanced right now that I think any team on a given night depending on where you play them can be very, very tough.  Its a very, very tough week for us.  We have New London on Tuesday, Danville on Friday, and then South Central on Saturday.  It's a rough week."

 

Published 1/19/16

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Rivals Meet in the "MBC"

 

          Mansfield Christian and Mansfield St. Peter's are among three schools to share the lead in the Mid-Buckeye Conference and they meet for the first time this year Friday night at the Franciscan Activities Center at St. Peter's.

          St. Peter's is the defending league champion.  Mansfield Christian won it two years ago.

          Last week, was a big week for the Flames, who beat Crestline, Loudonville (79-71) in double overtime on Friday and Danville (49-42) on Saturday.

          Coach John Kurtz is happy with what he is seeing.  "We played three conference games with Crestline, Loudonville, and Danville last week and we got all three of them.  The Friday night game was rough.  It was double overtime.  It took a lot out of us from that game.  We made some free throws late to seal it.  We didn't play to well against Danville on Saturday.  We were a little drained, but we had enough in the tank to get by them," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "That was another close game.  So, we were happy with the progress.  That is how we have been viewing this season as a little bit of a work in progress and we think we have made some progress to this point."

          After playing 40 minutes basketball on Friday, Kurtz says they were able to suck it up on Saturday.  "We challenged our kids at halftime that we need to find enough energy to make a run.  We did, I think we went on a 12-0 run in the third quarter, right at the beginning of the third quarter.  We had enough energy to get to that point.  We found a way to pull it out in the end.  We made some free throws to put it away.  It was one those games where you just needed to be on top at the end of the game and that's what we were happy with," said Kurtz.

          Mansfield Christian (5-4,4-1) plays its biggest rival in Mansfield St. Peter's (9-2,3-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday.  Kurtz says the Spartans are athletic and they don't to make this a track meet.  "They are very talented, obviously.  They had a lot of kids back that had experience.  They are very good in transition, especially on the offensive side of that.  I think if we get into that kind of game that is going to be detrimental to us when it comes to being in they game and winning the game. We have to control transition and I think you do that a little bit with the glass and how you play, but they are very good in transition," he said.

          Rivalry games can be about emotion, but Kurtz says they really aren't approaching it that way this year.  "Our kids have been pretty steady this year, so I really haven't heard a lot of talk that I have heard in the past.  I think our kids are approaching this with the attitude that there is a lot of season left and there are a lot of conference games left and this is one along the way.  I think the conference is fairly balanced, so you could win this game and let another game slip up on you. We have to sort of play each game as its own game and not get too far ahead of yourself.  That is kind of how our kids are approaching that.  This could be a really tall task over there.  Our kids are ready for it, but we have a pretty steady approach," said Kutrz.

 

Published 1/14/16

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Mansfield Christian with Two More League games

 

          This is a key week for Mansfield Christian when it comes to competing for the Mid-Buckeye Conference title.

          They play three league games.  They beat Crestline on Monday and play at home against Loudonville on Friday and host Danville on Saturday.

          They hammered Crestline (76-32) on Monday and coach John Kurtz says they were able to do some things to pull away in the second half.  "I don't think the score was indicative of what the game was like.  I think it was a kind of a methodical game for a while there.  We started to pull ahead and we started to make some shots there in the second half and that put us over the top.  I thought overall defensively we were pretty good in that game.  We limited shots and kind of pushed them off the spots that they wanted to get to.  It was a good win.  It's a tough week.  We have to play three conference games.  It's a double weekend.  You get into January and a lot of times your week looks like this, especially a double weekend," said Kurtz.

          The Mansfield Christian coach says the team is getting better, especially at shooting the ball, they just have to be more consistent on game night.  "Our problem so far is it hasn't transferred from practice to games, but that potential is there.  We feel like we are doing a good job in practice.  We still don't seem to get the ball where we need to at the tight time for our shooters.  There is progress being made at time there.  We thought it would be mid-season before we really started to play better, so we are hoping that as we get into this 10, 12 game spot in the season we start to shoot the ball a little better," he said.

          Mansfield Christian (3-4,2-1) is at "The Furnace" against Loudonville (5-4,2-1) for a conference game on Friday.  The Redbirds beat defending league champ Mansfield St. Peter's (68-64) last month and Kurtz says they have some guys that can really play.  "I think they have a very good team.  They are quite a bit faster than they were last year.  I know they did struggle from the field against Clear Fork, but it is the same team that has beat St. Pete's already and has played really well in different situations.  I think they are right up there with St. Pete's as far as the talent level in the league," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, " They have a couple of players that can really shoot the ball.  I know they depend a lot of the perimeter shooting.  Hopefully we can get them off the three point line and make it a game we can compete in.  I think there are a lot of area teams that are like that this year.  There aren't a lot of teams that are clear cut favorites in games.  There are a lot of games that could do either way depending on how a team plays on a given night."

          Danville (3-3,0-1) comes calling on Saturday night.  Like Loudonville, the Blue Devils have been very good on some nights.  Kurtz says they have shown they can really score the ball.  "It is a hard team to predict also because I know that they went to Fredericktown and won the other night.  They are a little farther behind than most of us.  On given nights when they get it going and score a lot of points they are very good.  With the Durbin kid they have a lot of size, so they present a lot of problems for you, especially for us with all of that size.  They have scored quite a few points in games, so that is something that you have to be concerned with," he said.

 

Published 1/07/16

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It's a Maturing Process for Mansfield Christian

 

          Mansfield Christian lost a tough one last Friday to Kidron Central Christian and now they most play a very good Colonel Crawford team on Monday night.

          The Flames (2-2,1-1) lost their first conference game of the season at Kidron (42-33) on Friday night.  Coach John Kurtz says that is a difficult place to play and the Comets are good at playing their style.  "We have found in the past that playing down there, it's a tough place to play.  They do a nice job doing what they are doing.  It was one of those nights, I think Loudonville may have had the same situation as us, where we just didn't shoot the ball very well.  We ended up for the night 1-15 from the three point line.  It is just going to be hard to win on those nights.  We just didn't make very many shots.  I thought ours kids battled hard, but we just had trouble shooting.  It was something we were in the gym working on Saturday and hopefully we get a little better," said Kurtz.

          Especially with a season ending injury to point guard Stevie Brown, Kurtz says it is going to be a process this year and it might take some time for the Flames to develop in the team Kurtz knows they can be.  "This is a situation that we have to taker as a learning experience.  It is tough to take a conference loss like that.  It's a long season.  We said as a coaching staff at the beginning of the year that this team has a good high ceiling, but it is kind of a work in progress," he told Swankonsports.com on Saturday, "We also think it might be mid-season before our guards have enough experience to replace someone like Stevie that we lost.  It's a big loss when you have a kid that has run point for you for two or three years.  You replace him with a sophomore.  Those things all play into this and you have to work through them.  It is part of being mentally tough to get through those situations."

          Mansfield Christian hosts Colonel Crawford (5-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Monday night in a non-conference game.

          Kurtz says it will be a big challenge, but one they need to have to get better.  "Crawford is very good.  They are a very good team and Dave (Sheldon) does a great job with his program.  We have had some really good battles over the years.  We haven't gotten them yet and boy we sure would like too.  Crawford is now a D-4 team so all of these games are important.  It is just another really good opponent on our schedule, which is one of the better schedules around in D-4 with all of the teams we play it makes it tough, but we hope it reaps benefits down the road.  Looking at these games coming up the holidays kind of mess things up for us, but once we get into January we have a lot of weeks with three games, maybe a double weekend and then another on a Tuesday or a Monday," said Kurtz.

 

Published 12/21/15

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Patience a Key for Mansfield Christian

 

          Mansfield Christian won the Mid-Buckeye Conference title two years ago and they want it back.

          They started off on the right foot by beating Lucas (60-46) last Friday night.  They play at Kidon Central Christian in an "MBC" game this Friday night.

          They trailed (11-6) after the first quarter last week at Lucas, but coach John Kurtz says they were able to shoot a better percentage for the last three quarters.  "We ended up winning by a decent margin.  In the first quarter we really couldn't buy a basket.  We had some pretty decent looks and just couldn't get one to go.  Luckily we made some free throws to compensate for that.  In the end we started to get going and ended up for the game shooting a very good percentage from the field, which was hard to believe with the way we started.  Lucas is an improved team.  They have a lot of kids back from last year.  It was a pretty half court game.  We were happy with the win and the way we played at the end," said Kurtz.

          There are going to be other games like this later on in the season where things don't go well early and Kurtz says in those situations you have to show patience and stick to the game plan.  "You have to do what you have been working on, so I thought we did a pretty good job of that the second half.  It is kind of interesting dynamic when you play a team, like Lucas, that has got a new coach, and hadn't scrimmaged anybody up to that point with their entire team, so you don't have much film on them.  It is just a lot of unknowns going into the game.  I think our kids were pretty resilient in the game.  We were able to figure things out at halftime and I think we played much better in the second half," he said.

          Kidron Central Christian (3-0,1-0) beat Loudonville (36-34) in a "MBC" game a couple of weeks ago.  Kurtz says Central Christian will patient in the game and try to slow down the tempo.  He says they have to take advantage of their opportunities.  "They are very well coached.  They want a game in the half court.  They want a game that is slower.  That is really not exactly how we want to play.  Sometimes they force the issue with you on that, so you have to be prepared to play like that.  They do a really go job in their 2-3 zone of making you spend time passing the ball and working the ball and looking for a good, high percentage shot.  If you don't they can force you into some bad looks.  If you have a night there where you are not shooting very well it can be tough as Loudonville found out."

 

Published 12/18/15

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Third Quarter Run Propels Flames Past Colts

 

          Brandon Mount scored six of his team high 19 points in a 9-0 Mansfield Christian run and the Flames went on to beat Clear Fork (62-49) in a non-conference boys' basketball game Tuesday night at Les Hauenstein Gymnasium.

          Clear Fork cut the Flames lead to (34-30) on a Christian Beer lay in with 5:29 to play in the third quarter, but over the next three minutes Mansfield Christian took a (43-30) lead.

          Colts coach Steven Bechtel says they had five straight turnovers.  "We just got done talking about it and telling the guys it is a long year and obviously that is an area that we really, really have to focus on.  We put it on the board.  We talk in practice.  Just taking care the basketball has to be a point of emphasis with the Colts," he said.

          Flames coach John Kurtz says he thought his team was more physical than Clear Fork and he says that was at the top of their scouting report.  "We really emphasized that coming in and we thought coming into this game that they would try to be more physical than us.  So, we really talked about trying to match that and play tough inside and overall I thought we did that," he said.

          It was (32-25) Flames at halftime and Bechtel says he thought they held their own in terms of physicality.  He says Flames were better able to handle the pace of the varsity game.  "I felt it was fairly balanced that way.  I thought both teams really came out and were battling really well there in the first half.  I thought they showed their veteran leadership there in the second half," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "They turned us over there five times in a row and the took fool advantage of it and just continued too push and we just couldn't get those shots going down the stretch."

          Clear Fork was paced in the scoring column by sophomore Chance Barnett with 22 points, 13 in the first quarter.  He was the only Colt in double figures.

          Mansfield Christian (1-1) didn't shoot it very well in a loss to Crestview (70-58) to open the season and Kurtz says Tuesday night they wanted to get it to the rim.  "That was by design.  We have really spent a lot time working on that.  We did not do that against Crestview and that was a problem.  We really talked to Jared (McPeek) and Kyle (Kurtz) those two about taking the ball to the rim harder.  Overall I think we did that pretty well," he said.

          They ended up with a two rebound advantage in the game (27-25,) but Kurtz felt they did a good job early keep Clear Fork off the offensive glass.  "I would say we spent the last three days working on rebounding.  Spending a good portion of time rebounding the ball and talking about rebounding the ball.  That was a big key (Tuesday) night and we are bigger this year, so I think that helps," said Kurtz.

          Mansfield Christian opens Mid-Buckeye Conference play at Lucas on Friday night.  It will be the Cubs first game after a long run in the football playoffs.  Clear Fork (0-3,0-2) visits Ashland (0-3,0-1) Friday.

 

Published 12/08/15

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Flames Ready to Play Clear Fork

 

          Mansfield Christian has only played one game this season and that was on the opening Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

          It will be 10 days between games when the Flames play Clear Fork in a non-league game on Tuesday night at Les Hauenstein Gymnasium.  Coach John Kurtz says he is a little concerned with the lay off, but it gave them a chance to refine some things.  "It gave us a chance to work on some things we didn't think we did very well.  There were quite a few of those in that first game, so on that front it gave us some time to work in it.  But, it also a challenge to keep you kids focused and really wanting to get it.  There is good and bad with it.  I think we are ready to go now.  I think we are anxious to get a game in.  The only problem about having that long period off is you know the games are going to start to bunch up you going forward," said Kurtz.

          Defense is the cornerstone of Mansfield Christian's program and they didn't play that well on that end against Crestview in a (70-58) loss, but Kurtz says there are other things they need to improve too.  "We have spent a lot of time talking about that.  Part of the problem with Crestview was not as much our defense wasn't that good, but we also turned the ball over and put ourselves in some bad situations in transition, so our defense definitely has to be better and we have spent a lot of time over the last 10 days on it," he said.

          Clear Fork (0-2) will be looking for its first win too.  They have lost two Ohio Cardinal Conference games to Mansfield Madison (53-33) and Lexington (85-52) this year.  However, Kurtz says the Colts are getting better.  "I got to see them twice so far because we have had so much time off.  I thought between Madison and Lex I thought they improved.  I thought they looked better against Lexington.  They have some young players that can really shoot the ball.  They present some problems there.  I think it is going to be a great game," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They have some kids that can really play well.  They are young and inexperienced, but those young kids start to adapt as you get into the season.  They make improvement.  I have seen already how their team goes from game one to game two.  I think they have some kids that can really play."

 

Published 12/08/15

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Defense the Deal at Mansfield Christian

 

          Mansfield Christian opens the season on the road on Friday night as they visit the Crestview Cougars in non-conference game.

          The Flames played Lexington, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, in their final scrimmage on Monday night.  Coach John Kurtz saw some good things, especially on defense.  "We thought we played pretty well against Lexington.  They are a good team, very big.  We thought we had a pretty good outing in that scrimmage.  I thought our kids played hard.  We didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but we defended really well in that game.  That being the last scrimmage before you play you want to play well and we thought we did," he said.

          Defense has always been the cornerstone of the Flames program since Kurtz arrived and it still is.  However, Kurtz says they have to get better at shooting the ball if they are going to become the team they have the potential to be.  "You are so busy trying to get all of your stuff in and be prepared and all of that stuff sometimes shooting takes a back seat and sometimes I think that did.  We are trying to correct that as we move forward here trying to get ready for the next game.  Last year I didn't feel like we shot the ball that well until about five or six games in," he said.

          Crestview has a new coach in Daniel Spencer and Kurtz admits it is a bit of a guessing game for them going into Friday night.  "Well, they have a new coach and a new system in and we don't have a lot on them.  We know they are short and quick and guard oriented and look to shoot the three a lot, so I think what we have heard they like to get up and pressure the ball a little bit," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We don't know a lot about them, we do know their personnel because we have played them a couple of years in a row.  We do know they have a lot of good perimeter shooters, so that is something that we are really going to have to pay attention to to get into that game."

 

Published 11/26/15

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Foundation Game to Honor Gurney

 

          John Gurney, a basketball official since the mid 1970's, has been battling cancer for the last year, and administrators and coaches at Lexington and Mansfield Christian High Schools have decided to honor Jon by donating the proceeds from their foundation game on Monday night to his health fund.

          Lexington Athletic Director Joe Roberts says they wanted to do something to let Jon know how much they have they respect him.  "We are excited to be able to help out a longtime official and a man we all consider a friend in John Gurney and his continued fight that he moves forward with.  We got this idea going several weeks ago.  Scott Hamilton and I were talking about Jon and that he had fallen into a rough patch there.  We thought we should consider doing something for him," he told Swankonsports.com, "We and coach Kurtz over at Mansfield Christian started to talking about it.  It's just a great way to say, hey, we are here and make sure we remember all of the good things he does for basketball.  So, Mansfield Christian and Lexington have traditionally scrimmaged against one another, so it is just a good way to tie it together and make it a foundation game."

          There are not any officials that get every call right, but Roberts says Gurney has always been willing to talk to coaches and players and that sets him apart from many.  "The underlying factor is this.  He doesn't make every call correct, we all know that, he is an official, but he does it in a class manner.  He is just always approachable and he always available and I think that is what sets him aside from so many others.  He has just done an outstanding job in both baseball and basketball for the last 41 years," he said.

          The games will be hosted by Lexington Monday night and will start at 6 o'clock, according to Roberts.  "All tickets are $5 at the door.  After the JV game is over we are going to do a little recognition of John and give him the microphone for just a few seconds to say thanks for the evening and then we are going to tip it off at approximately 7:30 with the varsity contest," he said.

          Roberts says some local business have also been kind enough to lend a hand.  "We also want to thank Mechanics Bank and Modern Woodmen for their support.  Mechanics Bank put up the money that goes to the Ohio High School Athletic Association for their foundation for this event.  Modern Woodmen has done a matching gift up to $2,500 for the John Gurney health fund.  Thanks to Bucks Bar & Grill in Lexington where Monday evening they are going to donate 10% of the sales before and after the game.  So, stop out at Bucks in Lexington and get one their good cheeseburgers.  10% of those sales are going to go back to the John Gurney health fund as well," said Roberts.

 

Published 11/23/15

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Mansfield Christian in Good Position

 

          Mansfield Christian figures to be in the Mid-Buckeye Conference girls' basketball race as the Lady Flames may have one of their better teams in recent years.

          They host Crestline in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game in the opener for both squads on Friday night.

          Coach J.R. Wilson says he has been happy with what he has seen from his players so far this year in preseason work.  "So far, I have been very pleased.  We are returning four lettermen this year and the scrimmages for far this year, of course they aren't games, but in the scrimmages this year we have looked like a pretty solid team.  So, yes, very pleased so far," said Wilson.

          As far as strengths are concerned, Wilson believes this will be a team that is going to be pretty good on defense and the boards.  "Right now, our man to man defense is probably the best thing we are doing and defensive rebounding are a couple of areas that we seem to be pretty strong in," he said.

          If Mansfield Christian is to have a good season this year, they are going to have to play better in the first half that they did last year.  Wilson believes that is a real key.  "Last year we had an issue with being consistent and starting off fast.  We wouldn't get started to like the third quarter when our girls really started getting going.  Honestly, that is what I am a little nervous about," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Hopefully, we can get off to some fast starts and get some good leadership this year.  Time will tell."

          It is sort of odd to start a basketball season with a conference game, but with that being the case Wilson knows this is going to be an important game for them against Crestline.  "We are hoping to have a lot fans come out and support the Lady Flames.  Crestline just transferred over to the "MBC," along with Kidron Central Christian.  So, we are hoping our girls are up to the challenge and we can get a jump on the "MBC," said Wilson.

 

Published 11/19/15

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Mansfield Christian Feeling Pretty Good

 

          Mansfield Christian won the Mid-Buckeye Conference boys' basketball title two years ago and finished second behind arch rival Mansfield St. Peter's last year.

          They are working hard to get that title back.

          Flames coach John Kurtz says his kids have been working hard and he is pretty up beat about where they are right now.  "We have had a really good start to practice and we like what we have been able to accomplish to this point.  We did get our kids back in a pretty timely fashion, so we have been able to work and get some scrimmages in already.  We are really happy with where we are at.  Our kids are working really hard.  We are always a little apprehensive going into that first game.  So far we feel like we have made progress.  Hopefully we will be ready for that opening night," he said.

          Kurtz has always been a coach that has emphasized defense from his days at Mansfield Temple Christian and Crestview and he thinks this team has shown during the preseason they can be pretty good on defense.  "I think the best thing we do right now is we still defend pretty well.  That is kind of what we hang our hat on.  I think there are a number of things that we are good at.  We are pretty experienced this year, so we don't seem to make as many mistakes," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We had a nice year last year and we really only lost a couple of seniors and we expect a good year out of our kids.  I think the defense is always a little farther ahead than the offense at this time of year, but we have defended pretty well in our scrimmages."

          On offense there have been some growing pains early for the Flames.  Kurtz says that is just something they are going to have to work through.  "We are doing some things differently offensively and I think my biggest concern right now is just learning to play like we want to play and being consistent and just learning match ups a little better.  Those are the things we have spent a lot of time working on and I think those are the things we need to work on.  I say right now offensively we have shot the ball okay, but it changing how we are doing things a little bit just growing up and learning how to play that way.  That is the part that we have spent the most time on and we probably won't feel comfortable with that until midway through the season," said Kurtz.

          Mansfield Christian starts the season the day after Thanksgiving against the Crestview Cougars in non-conference play.

 

Published 11/18/15

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Mansfield Christian Remains on Right Path

 

          Mansfield Christian is the defending division three boys' soccer state champion and the Flames take an unbeaten record in a regional semi final match-up with Columbia Station on Wednesday night at Brunswick High School.

          Carrying a (17-0-2) record into the contest, coach Steven Armstrong says they have not been complacent after winning the state title, instead they have been focused all season.  "That was one of things we focused on in the off season, over the winter, the spring and the summer.  The guys have done a really good job this year.  I have been impressed with them.  They have been extremely mentally tough and worked hard and played focused," he said.

          Christian beat Van Buren (4-1) in last Saturday's district final, Van Buren's goal coming in the final minutes.  Armstrong says he has players that can deliver from a number of positions.  "We have a really nice group of kids.  They do a really good job all around.  We have a very versatile team.  I can put several different players in several different positions on the field.  A lot the guys are pretty smart, so I can trust them.  We obviously don't try and dribble out of the back, but I have got guys that we like to get forward out of the back.  We like to do that a lot, get our outside backs forward," said Armstrong.

          It is not like this year's Flames team is a carbon copy of last year in terms of personnel, but Armstrong says they have had some players step into new roles.  "We lost eight seniors last year, which means out of our 22 man roster we have 14 returning players, that's fantastic.  A lot of the underclassmen has stepped up this year, which is great.  They have had older brothers that have come through the program and now we are down to a lot of the younger brothers," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "It is kind of cool to see how different siblings play.  We are down to the younger brothers now, so we play a much more physical game.  They have been doing that their whole lives with their older brothers, so it is kind of fun to see that."

          When it comes to scouting Armstrong says they don't know much about Columbia Station (16-2-1,) but he says their record alone tells him this will be a great match.  "I don't know a whole lot about them.  I know they have done what they have had to do.  They beat a good Independence team and we are not taking anything for granted.  We know that any team that makes it this far is dangerous and we don't want to bow out early in the tournament.  We are going to do everything we can (Wednesday) to make life hard for Columbia," he said.

 

Published 11/04/15

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