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Mansfield Tyger / Ohio Cardinal Conference News

 

 
 

Reese Won’t be Back

 

          Swankonsports.com has learned that Mansfield Senior boys’ basketball coach J.T. Reese will not be back for the 2017-18 season.

          Administration officials have told Reese, but the board has not acted on that recommendation.  Their next meeting is scheduled for May 16 and as of Tuesday an agenda for that meeting had not been posted on the district’s website.

          The Tygers had their first losing season in more than 20 years this past year when they went (6-17) and finished in the bottom half of the Ohio Cardinal Conference for the first time ever.

          Over his five years at the school Reese was (75-46) winning two Ohio Cardinal Conference titles and taking the Tygers to the division one regional final in 2014.

          We have also learned that Athletic Director Skip Fulton will not return in that position.

          Applications for the both jobs will be taken until May 19.

 

Published 5/09/17

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Mansfield Senior Still Looking for Consistency

  

          The Mansfield Senior Lady Tygers play one of the six games in the “MCS Holiday Showcase” on Tuesday evening at the Furnace at Mansfield Christian High School.

          They are coming off a (54-37) win over Clear Fork in Ohio Cardinal Conference play last Thursday at Pete Henry.

          Coach Todd Krill says they are making progress as a team, but maybe not quickly enough.  “I would say yes and no.  I think we are making progress to our goals that we have set many times offensively.  We are just not quite there yet, but pretty soon I think we will probably be getting there,” he said.

          Erica Johnson poured in 33 points in the win over Clear Fork last week.

          Krill says they need to be better at understanding what is going on in front of them and what they should be doing.  “Offensively it is being more consistent and managing time a little bit better.  We need to understand situations where we need to run some offense and score.  Those are some of  the things we need to get better at is understanding situations that go on on the floor,” he said.

          We are into Christmas vacation now and Krill says that can be a trying time for the Lady Tygers.  “I think a lot times what happens during Christmas time is there are a lot of family things going on and maybe you kind get of out of focus because you are not in a routine where you go to school and then practice or to school and then have a game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have more free time to do things that they like to do.  Sometimes it gets to be a little hassle.  Sometimes parents aren’t around because they go out of town to see families.  It is just one thing after another sometimes.”

          Mansfield Senior (3-4) plays North Olmstead in a game that will be played at 5 PM at Mansfield Christian.

          Krill says they have two very good players they will need to defend on Tuesday.  “I think they have really two good players, one player on the perimeter and one on the inside.  The one that plays on the perimeter is about 5’11”.  She is a pretty good player.  She can handle the ball and shoot the ball and I think she is probably the best player on their team.  The one the inside is about 5’8”.  She is pretty aggressive and gets a lot of rebounds and has really nice post play,” said Krill.

 

Published 12/27/16

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Lady Tygers Host Unbeaten Shelby

  

          Mansfield Senior hosts Shelby Tuesday at Pete Henry Gym in a battle between two of the better girls’ basketball teams in the area this season.

          Veteran Lady Tygers coach Todd Krill likes the way his team has been playing coming into the game, despite a loss to Norwalk (54-46) in the OCC/NOL challenge Saturday at Shelby, especially on defense.  “I have been pretty happy with the way we have been playing.  I think we have been playing sound defense.  Our offense could probably be picked up a little bit more.  Defensively I am very happy that we have been playing pretty well on defense,” said Krill.

          Mansfield Senior (1-2) also has a loss to Reynoldsburg, a division one state qualifier last year and the beat a very good Mt. Vernon team (42-41) last Thursday in their Ohio Cardinal Conference opener.

          Krill says they play a difficult schedule for a reason.  “That’s why we schedule teams that we might see again at another time or a team that is going to make us really play basketball to beat them,  When you beat a good team it is going to give us confidence and is going to get us ready for the tournament,” he said.

          Shelby (5-0) beat Mt. Vernon (69-63) in their game in the “OCC/NOL” challenge on Saturday.  The Lady Whippets share first place in the Northern Ohio League with Norwalk and Bellevue.

          Krill says the Lady Whippets do a lot of very good things.  “They are kind of similar to us.  They like to get up and down the floor and they like to run and jump.  They will half court trap and also work on their full court run and jump,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We just have to be smart with what they put in front of us and try and see how we can get it up and down the court ourselves.  They are kind of like us.  They might be a little stronger than us inside.  Hopefully, our quickness can overtake that for us.”

 

Published 12/13/16

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Tygers Expect Battle From Ontario

  

          Mansfield Senior and Ontario are two of the better boys’ basketball programs in North Central Ohio and they collide on Friday night at Pete Henry Gym on the opening night of the boys’ basketball season.

          It is the second meeting between the schools.  Ontario won by one at their place last year.

          Tygers coach J.T. Reese says they really wanted to find out about their team, so they traveled the state during the preseason to find the best teams to test them.  “No doubt about it.  I think what happened for us in the preseason is we tried to get some of the high level opponents in the state just to see where we are,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We went down to Columbus a couple of times and went up to Toledo once.  I thought we did pretty well.  We have a bunch of young kids, so we wanted to test our metal, put it on the line, and see what happens.”

          The Tygers are coming off a (14-10) season a year ago and they are always going to be in the thick of the Ohio Cardinal Conference race.  Resse says he would rather find out in the preseason the areas in which they need to get better.  “To be honest with you, you kind of want to get your butt kicked a little bit.  Just to knock you off that high horse and you have a little more teachable moments in the preseason because whether you win all of them or lose all of them it doesn’t count for the regular season,” he said.

          Quan Jackson hit a buzzer beater last year to beat the Tygers by one and Reese knows the Warriors are going to be well schooled on what they have to do.  He says it is going to come down to pressure and who handles it the best.  “I’ll tell you coach Balogh is a staple in this area.  His kids will be ready to play at a high level.  He will have them ready for our pressure and that is what we are going to come with, but I like our kids too.  We will lace them up (Friday) and see what happens,” he said.

 

Published 12/02/16

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Mansfield Senior hosts Ashland

 

          Mansfield Senior and Ashland, both unbeaten in Ohio Cardinal Conference play, meet at Arlin Field in an “OCC” game on Friday night.

          The Tygers (3-2,1-0) hung on to beat Clear Fork (42-39) in their league opener last week.  They scored all 42 of those points in the first half.

          Brian Benson, the school’s all-time leading rusher, ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts and also totaled 12 tackles from his linebacker spot.

          The Colts played the second half without starting quarterback Thomas Staab, who injured his leg with about four minutes to play in the first half.  They were able to control the clock.  Sloan Bowman missed a 28-yard field goal with just over minute left that would have tied the game.

          Ashland (3-2,2-0) on the other hand, outlasted Wooster (43-36) in triple overtime.  Keagan Armitage, Ashland’s backup quarterback to begin the season, scored the go ahead touchdown.  The Arrows then held Wooster on a fourth and one to preserve the win.

          Ashland beat Mansfield Senior (25-21) last year at Community Stadium.  A late field goal by Ashland in windy conditions proved to be the difference in the game.  The final points came on a safety.

 

 

Published 9/30/16

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Young Tygers Excited by Trip to the Valley

  

          Mansfield Senior opens up its Ohio Cardinal Conference schedule with one last trip to Clear Fork to play the Colts.

          Last week, the Tygers evened their record with a (35-21) win at Delaware Hayes.

          Assistant coach Sean Adams says he has proud of how this young Mansfield Senior team has battled back this season against a very tough schedule.  “We did lose 19 senior last year.  Coach Bradley has done a great job of keeping the kids out.  We have been able to get some of the other kids that have been walking the halls to come back.  Even though are numbers aren’t great we do have a lot of interest in football.  This year we have three freshmen playing on the offensive line, which is unheard of.  We have replaced about nine people on our defense.  Whether we are young and whether we are inexperienced it is still youthful.  We had to grow up fast because those second and third games were really brutal for us.  Last week I was proud of our resiliency with the way we came back and fought and conquered some adversity and got a “W,” said Adams.

          The Tygers lost back to back games to Canton McKinley (54-37) and Toledo St. John’s (44-16,) but Adams says they clearly learned from those experiences.  “Canton McKinley has been putting at least 50 points on everybody.  Defensively we didn’t get lined up our first three plays.  That is inexcusable, that is 21 points right there.  Then we had some miscues on offense that led to another 21 points.  If you take 42 points away and we are right there.  We wanted that kid to beat us throwing the football and he did with two touchdowns.  We allowed them to put us in bad position and they forced us to make mistakes and we just can’t have that.  That is the growing up phase that hopefully we can learn from as we carry on the rest of the season,” he said.

          Adams also spent some time as an assistant at Clear Fork and he understands the love the players have for football in the valley.  “I always love watching Clear Fork kids play football.  There is just something about the way those kids play football.  I love their discipline.  I love the way they do things that they are taught.  They hit you and they are physical.  I love those Clear Fork kids.  It is kind of bittersweet for me.  I still live down there are I still have a lot of relationships with a lot of people there, but it is a football game and we are out to win,” he said.

          In terms of the personnel Adams says the Colts (2-2,0-1) have some guys that can play and they will be ready for the Tygers.  “They are 2-2 and they have played some good teams.  I love Thomas Staab, great football player, great family, great student.  The list goes on and on with all of those kids, Tollison, they have some great linemen.  We are just happy to go over there and compete,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I used to talk to a lot of people are there and they say, you remember when Fraley knocked out Hugh Douglas and all of that stuff?  So, I know there is a little bit of some intensity there back and forth between Clear Fork and Mansfield and I am just glad to be part of it.  Coach Logan Slavinski is over here coaching and teaching our kids and he is looking forward to going back home too.  They is nothing like coaching in a Friday night football game in the valley.”

          As far as this being the last meeting between the schools, Adams says he will miss it.  “I can certainly understand Clear Fork’s decision to leave our league.  Not too long ago Clear Fork was wanting to play division two schools in Briggs and Independence and Sandusky and somewhere along the way they got away from that and decided that was not the avenue they wanted to go.  They decided to change conferences and I certainly understand that.  I enjoyed coaching over there.  I enjoyed the relationships I built over there and I am going to miss the opportunity to watch those kids play football.  It’s a great town and great community.  From a personal standpoint I am going to miss that every year.  I wish them well as they go on I know they are going to do great things in the other league.  Hopefully the experiences they learned playing this schedule will take them far.  I want nothing more than a state championship for Clear Fork,” said Adams.

 

Published 9/23/16

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Tygers Still Learning

  

          After two weeks of battling statewide powers Mansfield Senior faces another tough one on the road against unbeaten Delaware Hayes.

        The Tygers lost the last two weeks to Canton McKinley (54-37) and Toledo St. John’s (44-16) in games where they gave up too many big plays.

          Head coach Chioke Bradley says he believes they learned from those games.  “We got better in two losses so to speak.  You never like to lose, but with a young football team both in age and experience you always want to find as many positive things out of losses as you can, as many things that you can correct in practice or in film study.  I think we were able to do that and move forward.  With Delaware Hayes coming up next the competition for us doesn’t get any easier,” said Bradley.

          Wins do not come easy against this kind of competition, but Bradley says their goal is to become one of the hunters among big schools.  “We made the schedule this way because we want to play top notch competition.  We want to be able to introduce our kids to the best football available.  We want to take our program to new heights by playing these types of football programs.  They are going to get us better and prepare us for our conference play.  With these first four opponents it is going to do just that,” he said.

          Delaware Hayes (3-0) is coming off a (36-16) win over Westland and Bradley says this is a team that wants to run the football and be physical.  “They are going to run the football.  They are a running team.  They have some good athletes running the ball.  They are big up front, they have some big boys up front, especially at the tackles.  They have an athletic quarterback.  They also have a wide receiver guy playing quarterback, so he is definitely more of a runner,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If we don’t tackle well it could be a long night for our defense.  Their defense flies around.  They are going to give us a four man front and mix their coverages up with some man and some cover two, some four in and two on one side and some cover three as well.  They get after it from a linebacker standpoint.”

          In order to win the game, Bradley says they must be physical and expect it is going to be a four quarter game.  “It is going to be a tough football game.  It is going to be a good football game.  It is going to be extremely physical.  From what we have seen on film they are a physical team.  They are in the same conference as Big Walnut and that is an extremely physical conference.  We don’t expect anything less than a 12 round battle, a 12 round fight, between two good teams.  They are 3-0 and we are trying to get back in the win column.  We are going to try and take this team on the road and play some good Tyger football.  If we can execute and be physical up front on both sides of the ball it should be an exciting football game between two good football teams,” said Bradley.

 

Published 9/16/16

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Mansfield Senior Hosts Canton McKinley

 

          Mansfield Senior will be putting the pride of North Central Ohio football on the line as they host state, even national power, Canton McKinley at Arlin Field on Friday night.

          Last year, the Tygers played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, losing to the Bulldogs (28-21) after spotting them a three score lead.

          On week one of this season, Brain Benson scored four times in rushing for over 230 yards as Mansfield Senior bested Big Walnut (35-7) in non-conference action.

          Coach Chioke Bradley says it was a good road win for them.  “It is always good to get the first one, especially being so young.  It was a good confidence builder for our young guys to go out and play a tough football team on the road like we did and come away with a victory,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior played last week without athletic wide out Jornell Manns, but he is expected to return to the field on Friday night.  He was injured in a scrimmage against Mt. Vernon last month.

          Akron Hoban beat McKinley (42-14) last week.  Still, Bradley says the “Pups” are what football is all about.  “They have division one athletes all over the place.  They are fast they are versatile.  They do a lot of things right, they are well coached.  They are a storied program and against a storied program you better come with your “A” game, your number one effort.  The good thing about Canton McKinley is they have a ton of athletes all over the field.  We have to try and match their athleticism and play some tough, hard nosed football,” said Bradley.

          McKinley had over 800 wins in the history of the program, second in Ohio only to arch rival Massillon.

          Bradley says McKinley has great athletes and they are very capable of making lots of big plays.  He says it’s a great opportunity for fans to see top level football.  “Our kids are excited to have the opportunity to go against one of the premier programs in the State of Ohio and one of the premier programs in the country,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you talk about Canton McKinley you talk about one of the Meccas of football with the Hall of Fame being right there.  They have that long standing rivalry with Massillon.  It’s just an opportunity for us to play those guys at home in one the best stadiums in the State of Ohio.  If nothing else gives the fans in our city a chance to see some good football.”

 

Published 9/02/16

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Run Defense the Key for the Tygers

  

          Mansfield Senior knows its task on Friday night.  They have to stop Big Walnut from running the ball when they play the Golden Eagles on in their regular season opener.

          Tygers coach Chioke Bradley says his kids have gotten better this preseason and he is excited to see that they can do against Big Walnut.  “We have shown a tremendous climb in our progression from the start of camp to our first scrimmage to the next.  It will be exciting to see how we transition and transfer what we have accomplished to this point to a regular game setting on a Friday night under the lights in a hostile environment.  Big Walnut is classy and has played us well every year.  It has been a dogfight for both teams.  We respect the game and I don’t expect anything less than that Friday.  It will be good to see how our young guys transition to the big Friday night game.  We have been very excited about the progression our kids have taken over the last few weeks,” said Bradley.

          Mansfield Senior is going to have a lot of players that are going to be in starting positions for the first time and Bradley admits a real football game is going to be different for those kids.  “There is always a surprising element because when those lights come on you just never know how young, teenage boys are going to respond to adverse situations.  You try to prep them and prepare them throughout the summer, in camp, in practice for those hyper situations.  You never can duplicate the actual game itself, especially if that game is on the road.  It will be exciting to see how it plays out.  I don’t expect anything less than a real football game,” he said.

          There is no question in Bradley’s mind that they are going to have to stop the Big Walnut running game, that is the number one goal for the Tygers.  “We expect them to run the football in more ways than you can shake a stick.  That is who they are.  That is who they have been.  They have a phenomenal coaching staff that does a great job of giving those guys the care and have the mental discipline and coach them to be physical.  From what I see they are physical football team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “They have a great running game.  A running back is back that ran all over us last season.  We have got to stop the run.  There is no secret, everybody knows.  They know, we know.  If we don’t stop the run it is going to be a long night for us.”

 

Published 8/26/16

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Mansfield Senior off to Good Start

 

          As always Mansfield Senior will have some playmakers this season, but as the preseason gets going they are working on putting together some depth on their roster.

          Swankonsports.com got a chance to speak with head coach Chioke Bradley before things go underway on Thursday, the fourth day of two days, just outside their training facility.

          He says they have done some good things, but they have a lot more they need to do to be a solid football team.  “We have seen a lot of things we can build on in our progression that will help our football team.  I am very excited, my staff is excited, our seniors are excited.  It has been a delightful first few days, but at the same time we know we aren’t close to where we need to be.  We understand that we have to take one step at a time.  We are crawling right now,” said Bradley.

          Mansfield Senior does not return a lot of overall experience and Bradley says they will need some younger players to step up and take on new roles with the team.  “We have a few kids that are going to have to show up for us in different positions and play well, but I’m confident that those kids will do what we ask them to do and do it a hundred miles and hour and we are going to have to lean on some young guys.  It is going to be interesting to see how it plays out through this whole process.  We are just anxious to get through this next practice,” said Bradley.

          Playmakers return for the Tygers in Jornell Manns and Brian Benson.  Bradley says those guys can make big plays on the field and they are going to have to be leaders off the field too.  “Not only do they have to be special on the field, but they have to be special off the field with their leadership.  We are asking those guys to fill big leadership roles on our team and lead our young guys,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Show the expectations we set fourth for our team.  They have been doing a good job of doing that so far, we just have to continue to grow.”

          It has been in the upper 80’s to lower 90’s on the first week of the preseason and Bradley says that’s okay because it is going to warm when the regular season gets here too.  “It is okay for us because we go from 3 to 9.  In the beginning we lift and condition and meet in the air conditioning.  Then when we come out the temperature has dropped a little bit.  All in all coach “J”,” mentor of mine, a coach of mine, always said if you are going to play in an Atlantic you have to train in an Atlantic, so that has been our motto.  It is going to hot when we line up against Big Walnut, so we need to practice in the heat.”

 

Published 8/05/16

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Tygers Execute Well to Beat Orrville

 

          Mansfield Senior edged Orrville (1-0) behind the superb pitching of Dylan Dudley and a perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt in the bottom half of the fifth inning to win their first their first Ohio Cardinal Conference game on of the young season.

          Dudley, a senior, kept the ball over the plate for the most part and coach John Beasley says they were able to make the plays behind him.  "Dillon stepped up and really pitched for us (Wednesday.)  Tuesday night our guys were kind of down in the dumps a little bit.  We had 16 walks and came back (Wednesday) and Dillon struck out four, gave up four hits, and only walked four.  The defense was very solid, no errors behind him, and that plays a big part of it as well.  I was really proud of how we bounced back after such a rough defeat (Tuesday) night," said Beasley.

          There has not been a great deal of success with Tyger baseball in recent years and Beasley says this was a key win for them in terms of confidence.  "I was so happy for my kids after the game.  They were so excited and smiles were on everyone of their faces.  Each and every one of them had a little piece in what we did (Wednesday.)  There were some late defensive substitutions that we made," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Wednesday night, "Had a freshman come off the bench and play some first base for us and had a play to end the game for us.  With our program right now it is baby steps.  I am very excited with the direction that we are going."

          One of the more impressive things was the Tygers were able to keep their composure in a tight game and Beasley says his group is learning what it takes.  "Unfortunately these kids haven't played a in a lot of tight ball games.  In the preseason when we were scrimmaging we were in some tight games and they started to perform.  Then Saturday at Ontario a (2-1 loss) game to start out the season was very impressive.  Then (Wednesday) we played very well.  Nobody tightened up, everybody was relaxed and we got the job done.  I am very proud of them," he said.

          Mansfield Senior (1-3,1-1) is scheduled to play Willard on Friday and Northmor in a doubleheader on Saturday in non-league action.  Their "OCC" series next week is against West Holmes.

 

Published 3/31/16

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Tygers Fighting to be Better

 

          Mansfield Senior has a new baseball coach and he hopes to turn around the Tygers program that has languished in the second division of the Ohio Cardinal Conference pretty consistently over the last decade or more.

          Coach John Beasley, a Senior High graduate, says they have not been as consistent and they need to be this spring, but he has seen some good things in the three scrimmages they have played so far.  "I really have liked what I have seen.  I have 16 kids out for the varsity team.  We have put a lot on their plate this spring.  A lot of new stuff and they have absorbed it.  In the three scrimmages that we have played we have looked pretty good.  The first two scrimmages we pitched and defended well and didn't hit a whole lot.  This past Tuesday it was kind of the opposite we didn't defend very well and we didn't pitch very well, but we hit the ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "So, I think the main thing is we need to get consistency in all three phases of the game if we are going to compete with all of the teams on our schedule this year."

          Mansfield Senior opens the season on Saturday at Ontario for a doubleheader against Warriors, one of the better programs in the area.  They play their first two "OCC" games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Orrville Red Riders.

          Consistency is the key in any sport and Beasley says in baseball you have a chance to get right back on the field and address those issues.  "That's a good thing about baseball, high school baseball anyway, you have to have a short memory.  You try to get out there the next day and try to fix the problems and mistakes that you made the previous day.  From that aspect we enjoy getting out there and getting after it," he said.

          Baseball has not been a premium at Mansfield Senior and they have had problems getting their athletes on the diamond.  Beasley says that winning will solve those problems.  "Just like any sport and in any school winning gets the kids excited about the program.  Once we start winning some more games there will be more interest in the baseball program.  With this groups of kids that are coming through right now we have six seniors and six sophomores.  I think once we start competing and winning some games we will be able to get it turned around.  I bleed orange and brown.  I went to this school and played for four years for the baseball program.  So, it is my passion and my goal to get it turned around and compete for a conference championship," said Beasley.

 

Published 3/25/16

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Sandusky Lid Lifter for Lady Tygers

 

          Mansfield Senior is part of the division two girls' basketball tournament for one of first times, if not the very first time, and they will play Sandusky, of the Northern Ohio League, in their first game on Wednesday night inside the brand new gym at Monroeville High School.

          Coming into the tournament on a three game winning streak, coach Todd Krill feels like they are starting to put some good things together at the right time of the season.  "We are pretty happy with the movement we have made to getting a lot better.  I think we have been better the last two weeks of the season then were six weeks ago.  I think we are probably playing some our best ball right now.  So, hopefully it will just keep carrying into the tournament," said Krill.

          They have beaten Mansfield Madison and Lexington in league games over the last two weeks and Columbus Northland in a non-league game.

          Playing teams like West Holmes and Orrville in their conference schedule and Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary and Reynoldsburg in their non-league schedule, Krill feels they are well prepared for the post season.  "With the schedule that we play we play a lot of division ones and some very good division two schools.  If anything that has gotten us ready for the tournament.  The grind of the tournament and the stretch that we need to play.  We hope this can carry right on into the tournament and make us a better team," he said.

          Mansfield Senior (12-10) plays Sandusky on Wednesday night.  Krill says the Lady Streaks have some talent, especially their point guard.  "They have a pretty athletic perimeter and they have a couple of good sized girls inside.  They have a six footer and a 6'1" girl inside.  I think if we get up and play some really solid defense and get down the floor like we like to they will have to step up their game to play with us a little bit too," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have a real strong post in their that is pretty good and a real nice point guard that they have that is left handed, she shoots it well, she penetrates.  If we can slow her down and slow the big post down we should be okay."

 

 

Published 2/17/16

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Lexington Reels in Tygers in Overtime

 

          Lexington outscored Mansfield Senior (12-3) in the final 3:34 of regulation and then beat them (77-74) in overtime in an Ohio Cardinal Conference boys' basketball game on Saturday night at Pete Henry Gym.

          Joey Zahn netted two free throws with 32 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 70.

          A.J. Nickoli's three point basket with 2:20 left in overtime gave Lex a (75-72) lead they would never relinquish.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says his team is experienced and they didn't get rattled when they were down in the fourth quarter.  "It wasn't looking good for a while.  It is easy to say that now that we have won, but we have been down 10 or 11 points before and there was still enough time and we have got guys that can shoot the ball.  You are down 10 and still have five, six, seven minutes to go.  Three possessions and you are right back there and that is what we kept telling the guys.  We are down right now, but we aren't out," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "It came down to stops.  I kept telling the guys it has to be on the defensive end.  Offensively we are okay, but defensively we have to get stops.  Luckily they missed a couple of shots late that they were hitting early."

          Mansfield Senior led by as many as 13 points in the second half.  Sophomore B.J. Patrick gave the Tygers a (58-45) lead with :26 seconds in the third quarter.

          The Tygers (6-5,5-2) had the final shot of regulation.  Mario Young dribbled out the last 30 seconds and then settled for an off balance jump shot for the top of the key that clanged off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

            Mansfield Senior coach J.T Reese says they just allowed the Minutemen to make too plays in that pivotal fourth quarter.  "They were in the double bonus, so they kept going to the line or scoring," he said.

          It was a tough weekend for Mansfield Senior.  They led the "OCC" going into Friday when they lost to Madison (68-64) in overtime.

          After committing a number of turnovers that led to easy Mansfield Senior baskets over the first three quarters, Hamilton says the got their act together.  "I think it grew on us a little bit.  We knew what was going on.  The trapping that they have, we told the guys the traps are coming and you have to recognize it and see where the trap is coming from and if your man is the one that is coming to trap you have to make yourself available.  We tried to change our play calling a little bit so we weren't calling the plays that they were getting into the traps," said Hamilton.

          Zahn, a senior point guard, and Jonah Yaussey, a senior forward, each had 21 for Lexington (14-1,6-1) to lead the first place Minutemen in the scoring column.  Hamilton says when the pressure is on they want the ball in the Zahn's hands.  "Zahn is our guy.  He really wants the ball in his hands.  He is very confident with the ball and he is a good free throw shooter for us.  When it comes right down to it that is who we want to have it.  He gets it out of his hands without any problems.  We have other guys that can bring it up the floor.  He is very confident with the ball in his hands," he said.

          David Hall paced Mansfield Senior scorers with 19.

          Lexington is now all alone in first place after Ashland beat Wooster (68-50) on Saturday night.  Mansfield Madison won their second "OCC" game of the weekend (63-48) over Orrville.

 

Published 1/16/15

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Lady Tygers Ready to Put Some Wins Together

 

          On paper Mansfield Senior is a .500 ball club, but in reality they are much better than that.

          Their losses this year come to "OCC" powers West Holmes and Orrville, #1 in the large and small school divisions of the Swankonsports.com girls' basketball coaches poll, and Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary.

          Coach Todd Krill says they intentionally beefed up their schedule and he feels it will make them better in the end.  "We decided to upgrade our schedule quite a bit this year because we thought we were going to be division one and we ended up going to division two.  We kind of wanted to go get some more d-one's to put on our schedule," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Picking up St. Vincent/St. Mary's and picking up Bellevue and we still have Reynoldsburg and some of them.  We thought that would help us in the long run heading toward tournament time."

          The Lady Tygers (3-3,1-2), #4 in the large school poll, are led by guard Erica Johnson.  Krill says her talent forces the opponent to do some different things, things that they would almost never do.  "She is playing really well.  She gets her teammates involved too.  The other night at Wooster she got a triangle and two with two on her.  When we saw it we told our girls to take it to the basket and score.  We have other scorers too.  She is fine with that too.  She just wants the team to be successful," he said.

          Thursday, the Lady Tygers play host to Clear Fork (2-3,1-2) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  The Lady Colts have had problems scoring, losing (44-22) to Ashland last Thursday and (62-25) to Mt. Vernon on Tuesday.

          Krill says he knows Clear Fork will come ready to play.  "The one thing with Clear Fork is they are always a pretty good physical team.  They are pretty steady.  They run their offenses, they do what they are supposed to do.  They will play good defense and I expect the same old thing.  They are going to be ready to play and give their best in everything that they do.  I am expecting a good ball game (Thursday,)" said Krill.

 

Published 12/17/15

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Mansfield Senior Ready to Get Started

 

          Mansfield Senior and Ontario will square off in one of the marquee boys' basketball games in this part of the state on Friday night in non-conference play. at the "O-Renea" at Ontario High School.

          The Tygers finished second in the Ohio Cardinal Conference last year behind the Ashland Arrows meanwhile Ontario won the Northern Ohio League.  Both lost in the district tournament a year ago and have been among the most consistent powers on the hardwood in this area.

          J.T. Reese, the coach at Mansfield Senior, says they have been pretty good in the preseason, but they are going to have to be a lot better this weekend.  "We have had a pretty solid scrimmage season.  We have gone up against some formable opponents.  We have got to step it up this weekend though," he said.

          When it comes to approach to the game, Reese says things don't change at Mansfield Senior much.  "Well I'll tell you for us it is going to be the same.  The way we are going to have to win games is going to be the same," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We are going to have to try and get some easy baskets and then just guard the snot our of you."

          When it comes to playing Ontario Reese believes this is a great opportunity for them.  "I appreciate my kids getting a chance to be on a stage to showcase their talents against a local team that we haven't seen in a while.  It is good for our school, good for our program and good for our community," said Reese.

          And Reese knows that Ontario is going to be ready to play too.  "I'll tell you coach Balogh over there he is like a staple when it comes to coaching.  First of all I expect a well coached team, a well disciplined team.  I expect them to be at mid-season execution wise," he said.

          On Saturday night, Mansfield Senior will play host to Indianapolis Park, one of the top programs in the Midwest.

 

Published 11/25/15

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Lady Tygers Clash With Lady Whippets

 

          Mansfield Senior travels to Shelby for a non-conference girls' basketball game on Tuesday night featuring two teams that figure to be right in the middle of their conference races this year.

          Mansfield Senior in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and Shelby in the Northern Ohio League.

          The Lady Tygers got 28 points from Erica Johnson and they handled Bucyrus, of the "N10," in their opener on Friday night at Pete Henry Gym.  Coach Todd Krill says there were some good things in the (57-35) win, but they really didn't put things away.  "I thought we played really good at some times and at other times we weren't playing so well.  What we are looking for is to get more consistent on both ends of the floor.  That is what we have stressed in practice and stuff.  We are going to run with this for a while and see how consistent we can get at both ends," said Krill.

          Mansfield Senior is trying to implement a style that features some up tempo action on both ends of the court with some fast breaks and some pressing, however, Krill says they have to be more consistent in what they do on Tuesday night.  "We are hoping we can get that consistency for four quarters.  We were over there watching Shelby play the other night and I thought they played extremely well.  They looked pretty good and they got up and down the floor very well.  We could possibly have our hands full over there on Tuesday night," he said.

          Shelby had two pretty good wins over the weekend as they belted Plymouth (75-25) in their first game and "OCC" member Ashland (71-39) on Saturday night.

          Krill says he was especially impressed with the Whippets guard play that he saw then he scouted Shelby against Ashland on Saturday night.  "They have good guard play," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, "Their guards are very good shooters.  They penetrate the ball very well.  Their guards play very good defense and they create a lot of turnovers for them.  Those are things we have talked about in practice.  We have to make sure we are taking care of the ball.  We need to slow down penetration.  At the same time try to play our game get up and down the floor and play some pretty good defense ourselves."

 

Published 11/25/15

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Lady Tygers Looking For More Shooting

 

          Mansfield Senior has very good personnel this year and now it is a matter of putting it together.

          If they can, the Lady Tygers might be able to challenge West Holmes and Orrville at the top of the Ohio Cardinal Conference girls' basketball standings.

          Veteran coach Todd Krill says they return quite a bit of talent from last year's (11-13) team and they have some younger players that have shown some good things in the first couple of weeks of the preseason.  "We have a lot of girls back from last year.  We also have some young girls that are stepping it up pretty good.  We are still trying to find pieces here are there and trying together and see what kind of chemistry we can have.  We are still trying to fit pieces together and trying to work better and work harder.  If things come together we can be pretty good this year," he said.

          Mansfield Senior will be replacing its leading scorer from last year in post player Jeryn Reese.

          Krill says right now they are have been affective in their press in scrimmage play, but they have to become better shooters.  "I think we are playing pretty good defense.  We are aggressive, we are getting up and down the floor in transition.  Our shooting will probably come.  We haven't had great shooting in the few scrimmages that we have had," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We are getting a lot more turnovers than our opponents and we are getting some layups than we are shooting from the outside.  We are hoping that will change a little bit and our shooting will be a little better."

          Preseason started about two and half weeks ago and the regular season starts next weekend.  Krill says they are working hard to get everything in so they are ready to go.  "We are trying to squeeze everything in and it is really going fast.  We scrimmage Friday and Saturday and then next week we open up.  We play a Friday and will play a Saturday night.  It just seems like we haven't had enough time to get everything in that we really need to get in.  This week and next week are really going to be a hard push to get everything taken card of," said Krill.

          Mansfield Senior opens the season at home against Bucyrus on November 20, they travel to Bellevue, the defending Northern Ohio League champion the next night, and they play the talented Shelby Lady Whippets on November 24.  So, they will play three games before Thanksgiving this year.

 

Published 11/10/15

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Tygers Play Perry in First Round Playoff Game

 

          Mansfield Senior and Massillon Perry match 8-2 records in a first round playoff game in the division two at Perry on Friday night.

          The Tygers, #3 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, claimed part of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with a (24-20) win over arch rival Madison last Friday night at Arlin Field.

          The Tygers had dominated the first half of the game, leading (10-0) after halftime.  However, Senior High coach Chioke Bradley says he knew Madison would make a run at them.  "It is a rival game, so we are going to have real plays on both sides for both teams.  We were just happy to come out on top.  I felt we played well in the first half, I think we held them to 30 yards total offense is the first half.  We had 40 some plays to their 16.  They came out and they responded like a rivalry team should.  All and all I think if we don't muff the punt, I think we had a penalty, it's a different ball game with those two plays.  We dominated them in every category of the game.  All and all I am just glad we came out with a victory," said Bradley.

          Madison scored in the final minute and recovered an on side kick before bowing to the Tygers.

          Massillon Perry (8-2) is the number one season in the division two region and the Panthers shared the Federal League title with North Canton Hoover this year.  This is their second straight playoff appearance, they lost a first round game last year at Hudson (29-0) in 2014.

          Bradley says they feature a tough running game out of the traditional wing-T formation.  "They run the wing-T.  They are a classic wing-T team.  West Holmes is a wing-T team, but Massillon Perry is West Holmes 2.0.  They run the wing-t well.  We just have to go out and be sound and disciplined and we have to tackle everybody," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It should be a great game.  One versus eight and all of that stuff, you can throw that out.  If you make the playoffs you must be pretty good.  We feel that way and of course they probably feel the same way.  It should be a good game, should a great game actually."

          The wing-T can be tricky with all of its faking and misdirection.  Bradley says they have to be disciplined, which is something he has been preaching all year.  "You have to play assignment football.  Everybody has a job to do, that's why I said we had to be disciplined.  You have to do your job.  You can't do anybody else's job, you have to do your job.  If we are disciplined and do our job we stand a chance to be successful on the defensive side of the ball.  On offense we just have to execute our assignments and be physical up front.  Our backs have to do a great job running the ball and our wide receivers have to do a great job running the ball and doing some things afterwards," said Bradley.

          Mansfield Senior's running backs are pretty good too.  Tyquan Vickers has over 3,000 yards for his career and his backfield mate Brian Benson adds over 2,500 yards and seven 100 yard games this year,

          Stark County likes to fashion itself as the cradle of football and often times has shown a lack of respect to teams from the Mansfield area.  Bradley says that doesn't bother him.  "They play great football in that area.  Stark County is known for a lot of great football, the hall of fame, Massillon Washington, Canton McKinley, Perry.  As far as respect we ain't worried so much about that.  We are going to go over and we are going to play Tyger football and at the end of the game we will gain our respect with our shoulder pads and our play on the field and we are going to always be classy," he said.

 

Published 11/05/15

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Bradley Knows What Rivalry Means

 

          If Mansfield Senior and Madison both had losing records there would still be some intensity in the game Friday night at Arlin Field, but the truth is both are pretty good.

          Mansfield Senior (7-2,5-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, shares first in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with Ashland and Wooster.  Madison is a game back.

          Playoffs are a possibility for both, Madison is 11th in their division three region and the Tygers are eighth in their division two region.

          Mansfield Senior beat Lexington (45-28) last week and coach Chioke Bradley says that it was a tough week of preparation, but they did enough to win.  "There were a lot of distractions throughout the week, all of the bomb treats and all of that kind of stuff, and that took a practice away from us on one of our work days.  All and all we were able to come out on the road in a hostile environment and get an ugly victory," he said.

          It was (21-0) Tygers in the first quarter and Bradley says that start was important to them.  "We talked about starting fast.  We had to do that on the road.  We thought we had to jump out on them to try and build some confidence and get ahead in the game.  We were able to do that with some plays.  We knew it was going to take 48 minutes to get them.  They are tough and they never quit.  They came back at us.  We had to face a little adversity and I thought our kids responded," he said.

          This will be the sixth time Bradley has coached the Tygers in the "Battle of Mansfield" and he is (2-3,) including a (21-14) loss last year at Madison.  He says he knows what this rivalry is about.  "It's a big game.  One of the best rivalries across the state.  Both teams are playing well right now.  I know their guys had a let down Friday night, but overall they have been getting better week in and week out and so have we.  So, I don't expect anything less than a classic," he told Swankonsports.com, "I grew up in this town and I played in the game, played in the rivalry, so I understand what is at stake here and I understand what this means not only to our team, but to our community."

          Madison's Tyrell Ajian has scored 17 touchdowns this year and Bradley says they need to take away the things he likes to do.  "He is one the best in the country, he is a special player, a special kid and we can't take anything away from that, but at the same time we have to play the game.  We have some special kids that can compete at a high level.  We have to be up and play with that same intensity.  At the end of the day we just have to try and come out and fight and make some plays and create some different opportunities.  We have to try and limit the Ajian kid from doing the things he has been doing all season.  We can't stop everything, but it would be good to limit the things that he does well," said Bradley

 

Published 10/30/15

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Tygers Have to be Disciplined... Again

 

          Mansfield Senior moved into a share of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference last week because they handed Wooster a beating, now they have to maintain that same focus.

          In playing one of their better games in recent memory, the Tygers rushed for more than 260 yards and forced four turnovers in belting Wooster (32-6) in "OCC" play.

          Coach Chioke Bradley called it a tremendous performance, one of the best he has ever been associated with.  "We told the kids last week after the game that it was probably one the best efforts in my six years as a coach.  I think one of the reasons why is was the kids' passion.  I understood how much they poured into this game all week in the preparation leading into the game.  For our kids to go out and do what we asked them to do and play good, hard nosed, disciplined football.  We only had three turnovers and that is like an all time low for us.  Those guys over there from Wooster had a bunch of turnovers and a lot of undisciplined plays.  That was one of best things for me because people are always talkin about how undisciplined the Tygers are and I thought our kids came out and displayed on a major stage that we can play some disciplined football and get after it just as well as anyone else," said Bradley.

          Mansfield Senior (6-2,4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, must hit the road again, this time to Lexington (6-2.3-2) to play the Minutemen.  Bradley says they are going to be playing a solid team, that believes in what it is doing.  "They are doing a lot things well over there.  They are running the ball.  They have their best athlete at quarterback.  Coach Gerhardt has those guys believing in him and believing in their staff and believing the schemes and the things they want to accomplish.  You string a couple of wins together and you start getting confident and believing, you know, look out.  They do a lot of things well and they pose a major threat.  We are not overlooking those guys.  We have to go into this game understanding that we have to play 48 minutes of football," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "It's just a trip across town and we aren't going to get anything less from those guys.  They are going to be ready to play and fired up as well.  They are trying to get a lot of things accomplished too.  We have to be on our "A" game and if not we can get beat and that is just the way it is in our conference.  Week in and week out you have to be ready no matter who you are playing."

          Lexington has been playing with a bit of a chip on its shoulder and is going to come out fired up.  Bradley says they have to be too.  "That is one of the things we talked about all week with our kids being ready to go as soon as you step off the bus.  Having that mental focus where it is supposed to be and that determination and that burning fire within you when that whistle blows.  That is the way it has to be, especially going over there.  They are doing a lot of things well and they aren't going to do anything less than that when we come over.  We expect them to play with high intensity and high motor.  We have to have that same intensity for 48 minutes.  If we play some good disciplined football and not turn the ball over we should be fine," said Bradley.

 

Published 10/23/15

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Small Things Key For Mansfield Senior

 

          The success of Mansfield Senior's football season might be predicated on what happens Friday night when they visit Wooster to play the first place Generals.

          Mansfield Senior trails by a game and a loss and any thought of an Ohio Cardinal Conference title is over.

          Wooster (6-1,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll, has been more consistent than any team in the conference and that is why they are in first place.  Tygers coach Chioke Bradley says they aren't flashy, but they very sound in their execution.  "They are not the type of team that jumps all over you with different complex sets and different complex schemes and what not.  They are pretty basic and vanilla, but they do it well from what I have seen.  They have some phenomenal athletes at some positions to do what they want to do well.  They have a great coach over there.  Coach Haas and his staff do a great job and spend a lot of time on detail it looks like to me.  Again they aren't doing a lot of special, real creative things, they just do a lot of basic things and they do them well," said Bradley.

          Many coaches in the league have been talking about Wooster's front seven.  Bradley says they are talented.  "Watching them on film and seeing a lot of things that they do.  Their defensive front, their front seven guys, and among the best we have ever seen so far.  We saw their defensive front against Ashland and these guys are just as good and maybe a hair better," he said.

          Mansfield Senior (5-2,3-1), #5 in our poll, relies on running the ball and Bradley says they are going to have to fundamental up front and their speedy backs are going to have to find the holes quickly.  "I think our offensive line has to do a great job at the point of attack.  They are going to have to do the little small, fundamental things in the blocking scheme.  Our running backs are going to have to do a great job finding the holes.  It might not be the big gapping holes, but just a small crease," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Our backs have to do a great job of hitting the crease and making some guys miss and getting what they can get.  I think we also have to do a great job from the quarterback position of doing some different things with our cadence and do some different things with our play action pass game."

          The Tygers have produced some big plays on special teams this year and Bradley says they are going to need some of those Friday night.  "We always talk about all three phases of the game.  Our special teams plays is going to be big for our success. We have some special guys returning kicks.  Also our kicking game.  Our kickers have to do a great job of putting us in some good positions and making some key kicks.  That has to be a big key to our success on Friday night," he said.

 

Published 10/16/15

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Mansfield Senior Must Tackle

 

          Mansfield Senior fell from a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with a loss to Ashland last week and they need to get the ship headed back in the right direction.

          The Arrows recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score and kicked a late field goal for the lead and claimed a (25-21) win over the Tygers last week.  Coach Chioke Bradley says they made too many mistakes.  "We had a few crucial mistakes down the stretch and they didn't.  They capitalized on some of those mistakes and they were able to come away with the victory," he said.

          The Tygers (4-2,2-1) play at home against West Holmes (1-5,0-3) in an "OCC" game on Friday night.  Bradley says they can't be tentative they have to go for it.  "That is one of the mottos we preach to our kids is try to make a new mistake.  If we can try somewhere, somehow to make a new mistake then we are headed in the right direction," he said.

          West Holmes lost to Orrville (27-21) last week and Bradley says this really isn't a bad football team.  Instead he says they are just making one or two big mistakes and it is costing them.  "In some of their games they are right there and they find a way to lose with different mistakes they make along the way.  They go out and put it on the ground and pound it.  The don't have a lot of numbers, but they still do a lot of things well.  They still run the trap, they still run off tackle," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have some tough running backs that run hard.  When you watch film on those guys you really don't see a struggling team you see a team that is right there they just somewhere, somehow make the crucial mistake and it forces them to lose football games."

          West Holmes runs a version of the wing-T offense and they want to concentrate on running the ball.  Bradley says they have to clog holes and more importantly make tackles.  "They are big up front.  They try and get you on an unbalanced set.  They want to create extra gaps and extra running lanes for those backs. As soon as you key in on what they are trying to do in the run game they will stick in a hot pass here and there to their tight end or some of their wide receivers.  All 11 guys defensively have to be in tune with their assignments and we have to execute the game plan and most importantly we have to be sound tacklers," said Bradley.

 

Published 10/08/15

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Tygers With Big One at Ashland

 

          It what is likely a must win for both teams, Mansfield Senior makes the trip to Ashland to face the Arrows in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Friday night.

          Last year, Ashland beat Mansfield Senior and the Tygers were never the same after that finishing with a (4-6) record and in the bottom half of the conference standings.  Ashland, on the other hand, lost two weeks ago to Wooster (21-7,) putting them a game behind the Generals, the Tygers, and Lexington in the conference standings.

          Last Friday, Mansfield Senior (4-1,2-0) beat Orrville (49-14) and coach Chioke Bradley feels their kicking game was a big part of that victory.  "I think our special teams played a large part in opening that game up.  Offensively, I thought we were playing well and were able to run the football.  A lot of our drives were stranded by turnovers, but our special teams were able to come together and provide a spark.  I think that was most definitely the key thing to give the spark we needed and open the game up so to speak," said Bradley.

          Ashland (4-1,1-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat West Holmes (42-12) last week.  Bradley says they featuring sets where they run the ball, but that is something they have seen in the past and they will be ready for it.  "They want to run the ball.  They run the jet sweep, some zone.  They run the quarterback and they run some kids out the backfield," he told Swankonsports.com, "A couple of years ago they had a special kid that ran the ball well for them.  This isn't anything that is uncharacteristic for them.  I mean they have that built into their offense.  The credit goes to their offensive line.  Those guys are opening holes for their running backs."

          On defense, Ashland is especially good this season.  Bradley says their defensive tackles are outstanding.  "The Valentine kid has gotten better each year.  This is probably by far his best year.  We definitely have to do something with him.  The Jackson kid has turned into a pretty good football player as well.  They are both playing tackle.  They get to the ball and cause a lot of problems.  We have to pay attention to both of those kids," said Valentine.

          When it comes to keys to winning the game, Bradley says they can't have turnovers and they need to be bale to tackle the ball carrier.  "We have to take care of the ball and we have to tackle.  We have to create turnovers and not give turnovers.  If we tackle on defense was have a chance to be successful," he said.

 

Published 10/02/15

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Tygers Coming Together

 

          Mansfield Senior certainly played its best defensive game of the season in a shutout win over Clear Fork in their "OCC" opener last Friday and have established themselves as one of the contenders for the conference crown.

          They were able to bottle of the Colts (30-0) all night and coach Chioke Bradley says they were more focused and intense on that side of the football then they have been all season.  "They did a much improved job of running to the ball and attacking right there in the trenches.  I think we did a great job tackling.  We got a lot of hats to the football.  We brought the intensity level that we needed and we have been asking them to do for the last few weeks.  We challenged them, coach Adams and coach Turner and those guys.  We put together a decent game plan to attack what Clear Fork wanted to get done offensively and our guys did a great job executing," said Bradley.

          On offense, the Tygers got 194 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Brian Benson and Bradley says they were able to execute their game plan very well against Clear Fork.  "We wanted to get out and establish the run game.  Have our offensive line makes some holes an turn around and hand it off to our two or three backs.  They know what to do when the ball is in their hands.  We figured if we could establish the run we could knock off some chunks and then we would be able to get our play action pass going.  We were able to do that in the run game and the pass game.  It made for a successful offensive night for us," he said.

          On Friday night, the Tygers (3-1,1-0) host to Orrville Red Riders (1-3,0-1,) who lost last week (35-28) to unbeaten Lexington in what was likely their best effort of the season.

          Bradley says the Red Riders always play them tough and they have to be able to match their intensity or they could be in for a long night.  "Coach Davault does a great job of getting those kids up and have those kids ready to play.  They are going to come out and they will do everything they are told to do and be very disciplined.  We watched them on film and they do a lot of things well.  They have some athletes over there and it should be a great game," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have always had phenomenal games against Orrville.  It's just a great opportunity and it should a great night with the weather.  All in all Orrville is Orrville and they are going to come in and fight.  They are going to run to the ball defensively.  They are going to attack you defensively.  They are going to run to the ball and try to make some big plays."

 

Published 9/23/15

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Mansfield Senior to Play a Better Clear Fork

 

          Last season, Mansfield Senior manhandled Clear Fork in their Ohio Cardinal Conference meeting, this year the Colts appear to be more competitive.

          The two schools meet on Friday night at Arlin Field.

          The Tygers (2-1,0-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Marion Harding (33-20) in a non-conference game.  Coach Chioke Bradley says there was some good and some bad.  "We were able to come out and establish the running game and take a lot of time of possession.  We ran like 80 plays to their 30.  I thought we did a good job of managing of game and executing the game plan on offense.  Defensively, I thought we could have done a better job with some of the things we wanted to get done.  All and all we were able to come away with a victory," he said.

          Defensively, the Tygers have been inconsistent in their effort and that concerns Bradley.  "I think we still haven't figured out how to play 48 minutes.  We start slow and we have to go in the locker room and rattle the players so to speak and then we come out the second half and are a totally different ball team on that side of the ball.  We still need to have more of an attacking technique and get more hats to the football.  We need to more players to the ball and we emphasize that when we are watching video.  We need to improve our play on that side of the ball in order to be successful in our conference," he said.

          Clear Fork (2-1,0-0) has been running some of the triple option attack.  Bradley says if they can stay disciplined and just do their job they can bottle up the Colts.  "We definitely have to be disciplined.  You have to have a guy on the dive, you have to have a guy the quarterback and you have to have a guy on the pitch man.  If you have a player that decides to take play off or decides to do their own thing, decides not to execute the play or assignment it can turn into a big play for the Clear Fork offense," he told Swankonsports.com, "That is one thing that we have harped on all week.  It's just doing you job.  If you do your job and the rest of the guys on the field are doing their job.  If we tackle and do our job we should be able to be successful."

          Last season, Mansfield Senior had 400 yards rushing and put 62 points on the board against Clear Fork.  Bradley says the Colts defense has improved and will make things tougher for their offense.  "I think they are much better defensive team this year.  They have kids that will fly around and be tough.  They are a better defensive football team from what I have seen on tape.  They get off the ball.  They are hard nosed.  They play an odd front, their linebackers fly around, and they are sound tacklers.  We have to be able to break tackles," he said.

 

Published 9/18/15

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Focus a Key for Mansfield Senior

 

          Mansfield Senior will be the favorite this week when they travel to Marion Harding on Friday night, but that was the case last week and they lost to Canton McKinley.

          Focus is what they need this week.

          The McKinley Bulldogs took an (18-7) halftime lead last week and held on to beat the Tygers (28-21) in a non-conference game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

          Senior High coach Chioke Bradley says you just can't get behind like that and expect to win.  "We came out flat and we tell out kids all of the time that when we play a good football team and a good football program that you have to play four quarters, 48 minutes, in order to come in and get a victory, especially if you are on the road.  We dug a hole for ourselves with turnovers and just various miscues that didn't allow us to play our best football in the first half.  We went into the locker room at halftime and rattled their cages a little bit," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We turned it on and played a little better overall.  We did a pretty good job defending them we just have some turnovers.  If we didn't make those mistakes we might have come away with a win, but we didn't.  It's back to the drawing board to get it fixed."

          Harding (0-2) has absorbed losses to Mt. Vernon (55-19) and Lima Senior (49-14) over the first two weeks of the season.  Bradley says the Presidents have some talent, no doubt.  "They are definitely a better football team than they were last year.  They have lost both of their games so far, but they do a lot of things well.  They come off the ball, they are physical.  They are a well coached football team.  I think they are still trying to figure some things out over there and we don't want them to get it figured out against us," he said.

          Last season, Mansfield Senior beat Harding handily (45-18,) but Bradley says this is not a win they can take for granted.  "That is one thing that we talked about Saturday in our film study coming off the loss, also on Labor Day the way we practiced.  We talked about really focusing and getting back to the fundamentals and getting more disciplined and executing good football plays on offense, defense and special teams.  So, that is definitely a big focus on Friday for us.  We want to come out and we are challenging out guys to just come out and play 48 minutes disciplined, focused football," said Bradley.

 

Published 9/09/15

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Tygers Play Host to Big Walnut

 

          Mansfield Senior is going to be a team that can put some exciting athletes on the field, but their season might be determined by how good their defense can be this year.

          They host Big Walnut in their first game on Friday night at Arlin Field.

          Coach Chioke Bradley says he likes the way the Tygers have come together over the last week.  "I like our progression so far on both sides of the ball.  I wish we had more time, but I'm sure a lot of guys say the same over the state.  I pretty excited for these guys and they are pretty excited for themselves.  I know our seniors are pretty excited to get into this year, which is their senior year," he said.

          Defensively, Bradley says they have had to move some guys into different positions during the preseason and he thinks they have made a lot of good moves.  "Those guys have done a good job coming along.  We have tried some new guys at some different positions.  They have done an exceptional job of taking a hold of those positions.  I think our defense is better today that they were last week.  I do like where our defense is right now, but we still have a long ways to go, it's a long season, it's week one.  I am interested to see how those guys come out and fly around against a worthy opponent like Big Walnut who is a physical football team that runs the ball," said Bradley.

          Big Walnut is a team that wants to run the ball and Bradley says the character of the Golden Eagles is to be physical on both offense and defense.  "You are going to see a well coached football team.  Coach Wheeler has been doing a great job with that program.  They have a state title down there a few years back.  They are going to run the football.  They are going to run that trap at you.  They are going to run up in there and trap with their offensive line," he told Swankonsports.com, "Defensively, they are going to line up in that 3-4 defense and they will fly around and hit you.  I think the overwhelming factor for Big Walnut is they are a very physical football team on both sides of the ball."

          Bradley says the Tygers are going ton have to play hard on every play and not make a lot of mistakes if they are going to win this football game on Friday night.  "We have to match their intensity.  We have to take care of the football.  We have go to tackle defensively.  We have to get a lot of hats to the football.  If we can do that we will see how it shakes out in the end," he said.

 

Published 8/28/15

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Mansfield Senior Not There Yet

 

          Mansfield Senior is expected to be part of the mix in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and be one of the teams that could win the title in the end, however, they really haven't shown that yet.

          Coach Chioke Bradley says they certainly aren't a complete football team.  "I think we still have a long ways to go.  We still have some maturing to do.  We still have some kids that are still trying to figure out our identity.  I still see some leaks.  We have seen some flashes of good stuff, here and there, but it is not nearly enough, especially the small intangible things I like to see with a good football team," he said.

          Bradley says the Tygers haven't been as consistent as they need to be and that has to change.  "Consistency in the one major component, especially on the high school level.  The kids are so involved in other things outside of football.  Coming to work everyday and having a coach like me that demands a lot of energy and perfection.  I would says our offense is ahead of our defense right now when it comes to consistency.  Neither one of those units are anywhere close to being where we need to be or the team I expect us to be," said Bradley.

          As far as the defense is concerned, Bradley says they need better pursuit and when they get there they must tackle better.  "We work hard at preaching to our kids about getting to the ball and creating turnovers and getting a lot of hats to the football and tackling in space.  We have had one scrimmage so far and that is a category that defensive coaches are hatching on is tacking," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "And again getting more hats to the ball and creating more turnovers.  Those are two things we are working on and I think if we sure up tackling and sure up intensity on that side of the ball and good 100 miles an hour and get around the football I think that will create turnovers in itself.  I think with all of that together we can be pretty good defense."

          Mansfield Senior hosts Big Walnut in its first game on August 28.  They will play Clear Fork in their first "OCC" game at Arlin Field on September 18.

 

Published 8/14/15

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Tygers Want to Make Ashland Uncomfortable

 

          Mansfield Senior takes on conference foe and "OCC" champion Ashland in the division one district semi-finals at Liberty-Benton High School on Thursday night.

          It is the third meeting between the two powers this season.  The Arrows won both Ohio Cardinal Conference games, winning (59-57) in Ashland on December 19 and (75-59) at Mansfield Senior on January 30.

          The Tygers (16-7), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, played one of their better games of the year in their last outing, a (61-39) win over Perrysburg in last Friday's sectional final at Lexington High School.

          Coach J.T. Reese says they executed their game plan against the Yellow Jackets.  "Perrysburg is a well coached team and they have had a solid program for years.  Our kids came in an stuck to the game plan.  We pressured them a little bit, they turned it over a little and we were able to convert.  What you want to do is survive and advance and we did just that," he said.

          Ashland (21-1), #1 in our poll, has won 21 straight games.  Reese says that shouldn't surprise anyone.  "They are getting the fruits of their labor.  This is the same crew that has been with them as freshmen and sophomores.  So, they know the system.  They know what's going on.  This is a typical "Cinderella" story for them.  They have worked hard for the position they are in now," Reese told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

          Like most good teams, Mansfield Senior rides on its defense.  Reese says they want to make Ashland take shots from spots they don't want to and against pressure.  "It is not just Ashland we are playing against.  We are playing against a system.  A system they are trying to run.  We are trying to get them out of that as much as possible.  Make them take some shots that are contested," said Reese.

          They play a very tough schedule and Reese feels that make them ready to play and be successful in a game like this.  "We prepared week in and week out for the situation that we are in.  At the beginning of the year we had a bunch of young guys with no experience.  After 22 games we are right where we need to be as far as experience and I think we are ready to take on the challenge," he said.

 

Published 3/12/15

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Mansfield Senior to Lock Horns With Perrysburg

 

          Mansfield Senior meets the Perrysburg Yellow Jackets in a sectional final game in division one on Friday night at Lexington High School.  The winner advances to the district tournament next week at Liberty-Benton.

          The Tygers (15-7), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Clear Fork (81-45) in their final regular season game last Friday night.

          Coach J.T. Reese declared them ready for the tournament.  "We are on the upswing.  We have a well coached Perrysburg team coming in on Friday over at Lexington for our first tournament match-up, but we are ready, we will be ready to go," he said.

          Perrysburg is making the long drive from north of Bowling Green.  Reese says the Yellow Jackets have good personnel.  "They are from the Toledo area, so they play a solid, solid schedule.  They have several kids on the team that can play.  They know what to do with the basketball," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They are well coached.  They chose to come down here to Lexington.  We expect them to be pretty confident coming into the game.  For us to be successful we have to speed the game up."

          Reese says he expects they are going to have to execute against zones and he thought last week prepared them well for what they are going to see on Friday.  "Our last game of the season started our tournament.  We thought Clear Fork was going to play us the same way that Perrysburg will.  They will play 90 percent zone and 10 percent man and that was the same thing Clear Fork did to us last Friday, so we had a good test of that last Friday.  Hopefully this Friday we will be ready to go," said Reese.

 

Published 3/05/15

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Lady Tygers Need Balance

 

          Mansfield Senior travels all of the way up to Toledo Central Catholic to play Findlay in a division one first round tournament game on Wednesday night.

          This year the super sectional, or district, sites are at Fostoria, where Ashland beat Lima Senior (58-54) on Tuesday, and Central Catholic.  It includes 17 schools from Richland and Ashland Counties to west of Toledo.

          Mansfield Senior (10-12) lost to Ohio Cardinal Conference runner-up Clear Fork (48-44) on Monday night.  Trailing by 12 at the half, coach Todd Krill liked what he saw in the second half and hopes they can take that forward to Wednesday.  "I liked the way we played the second half against Clear Fork.  We kind of went in and challenged the girls at halftime.  The old thing fight the fight," he told Swankonsports.com, "I think they came out and did a lot better job the second half getting after it and doing the things that we asked them to do.  We are pretty pleased, we figure if we can carry over those two quarters into the game against Findlay I think we will be alright."

          Mansfield Senior is the 11th seed in the tournament and Findlay is the 12th.  They played once this year already and the Lady Trojans won it (53-49) at their place way back on December 4.  Krill believes they are a lot better team now.  "We played them once already.  They are kind of a young team, a lot of juniors and sophomores who played last year on the varsity but they were young and kind of the same thing yet this year.  We lost by four up there and I think we are a lot better.  That was right before we lost Erica," he said.

          Mansfield Senior has the district player of the year in Jeryn Reese, who can get 20 or more in a game, Krill says if they can get some perimeter shooting, like in the second half against Clear Fork, they become a lot harder to guard.  "We saw them go into their zone and we said we are going to spread them out.  We always what to pass it down into what we call the short porch and start making our cuts from there, so we can get some good looks.  That creates some looks for us to the threes, to the post.  That is what we finally started doing in the second half and we stared the score again," he said.

 

Published 2/25/14

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Mansfield Senior Doing More Things

 

          This Mansfield Senior basketball team has probably improved as much during the season as any Tyger team in recent memory.  Right now, they are a dangerous team.

          They travel to West Holmes to face the Knights in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          The Tygers (13-6,9-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has lost only three games since the new year.  Coach J.T. Reese says the team continues to be focused on improving.  "I think we just continue to get better and that is what you want to see.  You want to build momentum going into the end of the season, going into tournaments and I think we are doing that," he said.

          Reese says he thinks they have become more versatile on offense and are able to take advantage of what the defense is giving them.  "I am pretty critical of them, but now here at the end of the season we can attack you the way we are supposed to depending on how you play us," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "If you back up a little bit we have enough guys that can shoot and make outside shots and if you get up on us we have enough guys with quickness to try and get around you and make some good things happen as well."

          West Holmes (6-15,2-11) is coming off another tough loss (61-44) to "OCC" champion Ashland on Tuesday night.  They lost at Mansfield Senior (52-48) last month.  Reese says the Knights are the kind of team that is going to make you execute on defense.  "West Holmes, especially at home, is going to be a tough, hard nosed team.  They are coached very well.  They do some good things offensively to get you in situations, so we have to rotate.  They shoot the ball well from the corners.  With our tempo we are going to try and use our bench, use a lot of our guys, to try and create some speed," said Reese.

          Like most games involving Mansfield Senior, the Tygers are going to want to push the pace and Reese says they have the kind of bench to do that.  However, he says they have to continue to get better in the half court.  "What I really like is being able to play whatever the game calls for.  When you get to the tournament trail it becomes a half court game and you have to attack the paint the way you are supposed to.  For us to become an even better team we have to be able to do that," he said.

 

Published 2/20/15

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Tygers Set to Host Orrville

 

          Mansfield Senior has been one of the most consistent basketball programs over the last 20 years, but at the beginning the season it appeared that maybe this was going to be a down year.  Well, that is not the case.

        The Tygers have put things together over the last six weeks.  That was punctuated by a (63-61) win over statewide power Dayton Dunbar last Saturday night at Pete Henry Gym.

          Coach J.T. Reese was proud of the way his teem stepped up to the plate.  "Yeah, I think it was one of our better performances.  Our best simply because it was our last game and God willing we can put together and even better performance this Friday against Orrville," he said.

          The game against Dunbar was an intense one and played at a quick tempo.  Reese says the Tygers like it that way.  "If we have our whole team available we haven't lost yet this year and we had everybody available against them, plus the style of play.  There were a lot of possessions in that game because it was an up and down game," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "That is the type of team we are and we perform pretty well at that kind of game.  The last thing is we were at home and we expect to win every one of our home games.  I feel our team stuck to the script pretty well, the game plan, and pulled out the victory."

          Orrville (8-9,4-7) will be at Mansfield Senior (12-6,8-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  Reese says the Red Riders are going to make them execute.  "They will come in hard nosed and well coached.  I think they will mix it up with a little bit of man and a little bit of zone just to keep us off balance.  The last time they cam to our gym they beat us, they won.  I am thinking they remember that and we do as well," said Reese.

          One of the keys to winning, according to Reese, will be making it an up tempo game and trying to get into the Orrville bench a little bit.  "I think we have more players than they do.  When we played them last time I think they came off the bench with one or two guys, so if we can get it up tempo we can use some of our depth and be more affective," he said.

 

Published 2/12/15

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Senior High Wants to Play Fast

 

          Mansfield Senior is going to need a lot of help if they are going to get a piece of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title this year.

          After losing at home to Ashland (73-59) last week, they fell three games behind the Arrows in the conference standings and there are only five games to play. 

          They did respond by winning at Wooster (65-64) on Saturday night in a league game.

          Coach J.T. Reese says they dug a hole early against Ashland ad couldn't get out of it.  "Both teams were formidable opponents.  Ashland is pretty solid.  They came into our place and shot the ball pretty well.  We weren't ready to play from the start.  We had to play catch up the whole game," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "On Saturday night when we went over to Wooster we cane out on fire.  We were better prepared and we were ready to play and we ended up squeaking out a victory out."

          Reese says this year's team seems to be one that needs to play well early in games if they are going to turn in a good performance.  "What has to happen in our success once we have success early it is a lot easier for us to continue that.  If we start out the game slow we can spin our wheels a little bit and sometimes we figure it out and sometimes we don't," he said.

          On Friday night, Mansfield Senior is at Pete Henry for a game against one of their traditional rivals in the Lexington Minutemen in an "OCC" contest.  The Tygers beat Lex (54-52) in their first meeting when Nardan James buried a three pointer at the buzzer.

          Reese says this is a game that has to be sort of a track meet for them because that is when they are at their best.  "They have a lot of height.  They are well coached.  Schematically he has them doing some things that accentuate their height.  What we have to do is get the game going at a speed and tempo that we play our best at," he said.

 

Published 2/05/15

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Mansfield Senior Facing Must Win Against Ashland

 

          Mansfield Senior trails Ashland by two games in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and they face a must win situation as they host the Arrows at Pete Henry Gym on Friday night.

          The Tygers (9-5,6-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, won three league games last week in beating West Holmes (52-48) on Tuesday, Clear Fork (70-65) on Friday and rival Mansfield Madison (70-38) on Saturday.

          Coach J.T. Reese says they are learning the game and puts them in better position to win.  "We are figuring out what to do with the basketball.  We have a little bit more experience now.  We are playing a little better as the season goes along," he said.

          David Hall, a transfer from Mansfield St. Peter's, played for the first time this season against West Holmes.  Reese says he makes them a lot better, especially on defense.  "The first thing that he brings is knowledge of the game.  Defensive positioning, he knows exactly where he needs to be.  On the defensive side of the ball he gives a lot of effort, so he is a great addition," he said.

          Ashland (11-1,7-0), #1 in our poll, has won 11 straight games, including a (59-57) win over Senior High at Arrow Arena on December 19 as Isaac White scored 20 points.  Reese says the Arrows have a lot of reasons they are good.  "They are a very experienced team that is the first thing that comes to mind," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have a couple of seniors on the squad.  They have a solid system, and a solid coaching staff, a solid school when it comes to support, so they are solid all the way around."

          To get the win this time, Reese says they have to make Ashland uncomfortable.  "We can not let them get into what they do best, not let them run a whole lot of offense, rebound the basketball and not get lost defensively," he said.

 

Published 1/29/15

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Tygers Play to Get Better

 

          There weren't a lot of people talking about Mansfield Senior and the Ohio Cardinal Conference title in December when they lost to Madison and Ashland, but you can bet the rest of the league has their eyes on the Tygers.

          Mansfield Senior has won five of their last six games and coach J.T. Reese says their players, many in their first year of  varsity action, have started to put things together.  "The team has done well they have gotten some games under their belt and getting into some situations.  Our kids are understanding what to do with the basketball and when to do that," he said.

          The Tygers (5-4,2-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Lexington (54-52) last Friday on a last second shot by Naradin James.  The win kept the Tygers in the title hunt.  Reese says they practice those kind of last second plays.  "We practice situations and scenarios every Thursday of the week.  We put our team in tougher situations than they will probably ever be in the game and that worked last week against Lexington.  We wanted to get the ball on the safer side of the court and he made a tough shot to win it," he said.

          Their only loss since before Christmas came at Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (79-69) last Saturday.  Reese says the loss is going to make them better because of the competition.  "What we use those type of games for is to find out if you are really good.  Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary's and a couple of other teams on our schedule are state bound basically," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "That team we faced last Saturday you are going to see them down at the state.  I thought for about three and half quarters we played them tooth and nail and then their experience took over at the end."

          Mansfield Senior is at Orrville (2-5,1-3) for a conference game on Friday night.  Reese says he expects the Red Riders to play their best game of the season.  "Coach Slaughter over there has those kids playing hard and they will be hard nosed and they will be tough at their place.  The ball goes in for them a little better at home.  We will be in for a dogfight (Friday) night," he said.

 

Published 1/16/15

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Mansfield Senior Wants to Dictate the Pace

 

          Mansfield Senior is quickly becoming the Mansfield Senior we are used to seeing and that is probably not a good thing for the rest of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          The Tygers trail co-leaders Ashland and Madison by two games after handing Wooster their first "OCC" loss last week by thrashing the Generals (59-46) at Pete Henry.  They backed that up with a nice win at Toledo Scott (59-56) on Saturday night in non-conference play.

          Coach J.T. Reese says the big difference from the first couple weeks has been the experience they have gained.  "My team is improving without a doubt.  We started out the year with a lot of guys that didn't have any varsity experience as players.  They have that now and we are starting to see some of the results," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Not so much in wins and losses, but possession after possession we are starting to do the right thing with the basketball."

          There may be different names, but Reese says their goal is to play the same way the Tygers have always played.  "Our identity is the same as it has been since I have been coaching.  Offensively to get the ball down the floor as quickly as possible and try to get the ball as close to the basket as possible to shoot whoever that is that is in that role we rely on them to get it done for us," he said.

          Mansfield Senior (4-3,1-2) is at Lexington (5-5,1-2) for a game in the "OCC."  And a game in which the loser fades out of league title contention.  Reese says Lexington is a tough place to play.  "I think Lexington is a very good team and they are coached pretty well.  They have a great backing and they are going to play pretty hard.  The last time we went over there I lost, so we want to go over there and have a better showing.  We want to go over there and take care of the ball and induce some pressure," said Reese.

          The Minutemen beat Mansfield Senior (60-49) at Lexington last season.

          To win this time on the road, Reese says they need  to make Lexington uncomfortable by making them play a little faster than they are used to playing.  "I think we will try to induce some tempo with our defensive pressure to negate some of the size that they have.  And vice versa I think they will try and slow it down a little bit and get the ball inside," he said.

 

Published 1/08/15

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Mansfield Senior Finding Some Things

 

          After losing their first three games on the season, the Mansfield Senior Tygers have won two straight and are starting to meet the normal expectations of a Tyger basketball team.

          With wins over Columbus South (83-78) on Monday and Toledo Central Catholic (66-56) on Saturday the Tygers are heading in the right direction. 

          Ten seniors graduated last summer and Mansfield Senior is working in some new players.  Coach J.T. Reese says they are starting to become more of a unit.  "As the season goes on we expect the team to be a little more comfortable with each other and get better and that is what has happened," he said.

          Reese says they are getting used to each other and the coaching staff is figuring out what the players are good at doing at this level.  "When you have a couple clutch guys that really haven't played varsity basketball at the level we need to play and it makes us a much more exciting team," said Reese.

          The Tygers aren't where they need to be yet and will receive a big test when they host Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leader Wooster on Tuesday night at Pete Henry Gym.  Reese says they have to understand better how hard they have to play.  "The main thing is playing at the intensity level we need to be at.  Once you do that things will get better," he said.

          Wooster (5-1,2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, have won five straight games, including a (66-58) win over Wadsworth on Saturday.  Reese says that they are in for a real battle.  "It will be another dogfight.  Another fermentable opponent in the conference.  I can't wait to see what happens," he said.

 

Published 12/29/14

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Mansfield Senior Opens Season With Cross Town Rival

 

          Mansfield Senior opens the 20014-15 high school boys' basketball season at home, at Pete Henry Gym, on Friday night against the rival Madison Rams.

          Graduation hit Tygers pretty hard last summer as they lost 10 players that were part of a team that advanced to the regional and lost to eventual state champion Lakewood St. Edward in the regional tournament.

          However, coach J.T. Reese says they have some guys that are ready to step in.  "We graduated 10 guys, so we only had a couple open slots.  What ended happening for last year three or four junior varsity players could have played for last year, but we were so senior laden they didn't get a chance to.  So, they have some things to prove, it is their turn, their chance," said Reese.

          It is kind of rare for a team to begin the season with a conference game and even more rare for it to be a rival.  Reese says it really doesn't mean that much to them.  "You can call it what you want and no disrespect to our opponent Madison, but they are just the first opponent on our schedule.  It could be us against anybody and we would probably feel the same way.  It makes it a little bit more attractive that it is Madison, that it is our cross town rival and our kids will be fired up and ready to go," said Reese.

          Madison has already played three games, winning two against Shelby (58-44) and Galion (51-45) and losing to Norwalk (44-43).  Reese says the Rams can play.  "They are solid all of the way around.  They take the personality of their coach, a real gritty, scrappy guy.  They do things well, they have won a couple of games, and they are experienced," he said.

          In both of their wins sophomore Tyrell Ajian has scored more than 20 points.  Reese they try to run their offense through him.  "The couple of games we have saw that is exactly the formula they have.  He is a solid player and he has gotten better since last year as well," he said.

 

 

Published 12/12/14

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Mansfield Senior off to 2-0 start; Wants more

 

          Mansfield Senior won the Bucyrus Tip-Off Classic this past weekend and now they will play their third game in five days as they host Shelby in a non-conference game on Tuesday night at Pete Henry Gym.

          The Lady Tygers downed Riverdale (69-61) in their first game and Bucyrus (74-39) in their second game on Saturday night.

          Coach Todd Krill thought they get better from Friday to Saturday night too.  "We are very happy.  We thought the first two games we played really pretty good basketball.  In the second game we thought we improved our basketball skill, so right now we are just trying to improve every time we go out and play a game," he said.

          He didn't get into specifics, but Krill says they can still get better as team and they have worked on that in practice in getting ready for Tuesday night.  "There are still areas we need to improve on.  We were back in practice (Sunday) trying to get things taken care of along those lines.  We are trying to take care of some details of our defense and also on our offense," he said.

          Shelby (1-1) is in the same situation as the Lady Tygers in that this is their third game already this year.  They beat Plymouth (66-38) in their first game last Friday and then lost to Ashland (51-43), another Ohio Cardinal Conference team, on Saturday. 

          Krill says he knows that Shelby will bring great intensity to the game.  "They are still kind of a young ball club yet, but they work very hard and they play very hard.  I think when you get a team that will work and play hard they are going to be a challenge," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We have to make sure that they don't step up on us a little bit because we want to be able to work our stuff and work hard against them.  It is a typical Shelby team they will come in and play there hardest the whole time."

 

Published 12/02/14

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More Consistency the Story For Lady Tygers

 

          Mansfield Senior won 12 games last season and at times they looked very good, but at other times they were pretty awful.  This year they hope they can avoid those peaks and valleys.

          In the preseason coach Todd Krill has been pretty happy with their approach to the game.  "I think we have been pretty happy with the way things have been going.  We have been working really hard on every phase of the game. We have been really pleased we have been having really solid practices.  We have been happy that we are doing things a lot better than maybe we have the last couple of years," said Krill.

          The Lady Tygers coach is kind of talking about the same issues he has for the last couple of years.  He says they have to be able to play a full 32 minutes of basketball to be successful.  "I think a lot of it comes down to being consistent.  Sometimes we can be very good on offense and the next thing you know we are having problems scoring.  The same thing on defense.  Sometimes we just have holes in our defense.  We just have to be consistent with our offense and defense," he said.

          Mansfield Senior will play four games in the first week of the season beginning with the Bucyrus Tip-Off Classic the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, followed by Shelby on December 2 and Findlay on December 4.

          Krill says they have been using their time this month to make sure each player is sure what is expected of them.  "We try to be very careful with our girls and make sure they understand what we want from them.  Sometimes we are asking questions during practice to make sure that they do understand," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We are always preaching about the consistency and what we want on offense and defense.  In some areas we have very veteran players and some areas we're not.  Hopefully the veterans can help out the young players."

 

 

Published 11/20/14

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Improving the Key for Tygers

 

          Mansfield Senior wraps up its season with its most traditional rival in the cross town Mansfield Madison Rams in Ohio Cardinal Conference action as it is another "Battle of Mansfield," the annual struggle for bragging rights.

          Madison (6-3,4-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has won its last four games, including a big (41-35) win over Ashland last week that boosted their playoff chances. 

          Senior High coach Chioke Bradley says the Rams have a lot of good players and identifies this as a chance to for them to improve as a football team.  "They started early winning some games and then they hit a little rut, but now they have progressively gotten a whole lot better as a football team.  That is a tribute to a great football staff with Conway and his guys over there.  They have been coaching those guys up and they have been getting better week to week," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They have some talent over there.  With the Douglas kid and the Ajian kid, that is a one-two punch to go along with the fullback.  Defensively they are playing some good football and stopping guys.  They are a good football team and we have a lot that we have to go out and try to stop.  It is going to be a major task for us.  We look at this as an opportunity to get out there and coach our kids again.  We return 20 some juniors next year and this is another opportunity for us to go out and get better and watch our kids grow a little bit."

          Madison threw only two passes last week against Ashland as they gained over 300 yards on the ground.  However, they have been throwing more and Bradley says with good reason.  "The Finley kid does a nice job of throwing the ball.  I think coach Smith, the offensive coordinator over there, does a nice job of not getting too exotic for him and catering to his quarterback's style.  If you look at his routes they are intermediate routes and he is throwing the ball deep and I think that is because they have some good weapons out there on the edge that he can throw the ball to.  They have always been notoriously an unbalanced run-throw team, but they are spreading it out because of the athletes they have coming through the program right now," he said.

          This is probably a make or break game for Madison in terms of making the postseason.  When asked if denying their rival that opportunity is something they look forward too, Bradley says that is not something they are thinking about.  "That's for you media guys and so forth, but for us that is not our main objective.  Our objective is to go out and get better.  This is another opportunity as a staff that we can coach our kids one last time before we get into next year.  This is an opportunity for us to work with our seniors.  This is their last game.  I know we have a great group and we want to go over there and have an opportunity to play in an electric atmosphere and play a good football team and get better play to play and try to do everything right in all three phases offense, defense and special teams," said Bradley.

 

Published 10/31/14

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Mansfield Senior Faces "OCC" Leader

 

          Mansfield Senior faces a must win situation this week as they travel to West Holmes to play the "OCC" leading Knights.

          After a loss to Ashland (30-25) last week, the Tygers, the defending conference champions, fell a game behind West Holmes in the Ohio Cardinal Conference race.

          The Tygers (3-3,2-1) had over 400 yards of total offense against Ashland, but coach Chioke Bradley says they made too many mistakes, especially in kick coverage.  "I think we came out and had a lot of things we wanted to accomplish that we had charted throughout the week in our preparation.  I think offensively we were able to do that it was just that we got started a little late.  I tell our kids all of the time we have to play 48 minutes, especially against a good football team like Ashland.  We had two special teams miscues and that has been plaguing us all season so far.  We need to shore up our special teams unit, particularly our kickoff team and come out and play four quarters of football.  If we do we can be there week in and week out," said Bradley.

          West Holmes (3-3,3-0) is a team that has really turned it on once they got into league play by beating Mansfield Madison (34-21), Ashland (34-28) and Orrville (53-13), it seems like they have gotten better each week.  Bradley says they do an excellent job of executing their stuff.  "Just like ourselves they played some good teams early and where in games and lost.  They hit their stride as soon as the league started.  They have a good coach in Maltrich and a good staff over there.  They do what they do.  They are a good downhill running team.  We have to do the best we can to try and contain their running game and tackle aggressively and know our assignments as well as defend the play action pass.  That is the way we are going to prepare throughout this week and we will see how it goes," he said.

          Luke Ogi has run for more than 600 yards the last three weeks for the Knights and the Tygers combination of Brian Benson and Tyquan Vickers are outstanding backs.  Bradley says this game will be determined in the trenches.  "We tell our kids, especially in game like this one against West Holmes, they run that wing-T offense and the point of attack has to be won on the offensive and defensive line.  We are going to ride on those guys.  Those guys are going to have to play tough football down there if we are going to have a chance to be successful," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We still have to be disciplined on the back end because they have a pretty good left handed quarterback that can get you on the play action game."

 

Published 10/10/14

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Mansfield Senior Finding Identity

 

          Mansfield Senior stumbled out of the gate a little bit in losing their first two games, but during their three game winning streak they have started to put some things together.  

          Last week, they downed Orrville (33-14) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play. 

          The Tygers (3-2,2-0) scored twice on Mitch Nixon touchdown passes, one to Brandon Swindall and the other to Asante Wilder, in the first quarter and coach Chioke Bradley says they went up top by design.  "It was good to see our team be able to come out and execute.  We saw some things on film that we could take advantage of.  We have been having some success running the football these last couple of weeks, so we knew we could probably get some passes down the field with our play action game.  We opened the game with a touchdown with a play action pass.  Then we went back to our running game, which is our identity on the offensive side," he said.

          They ended the night with 353 rushing yards, 184 by sophomore Brian Benson.

          The best thing of the night though might have been their defense, which limited the Red Riders to two scores.  Bradley says they are coming along on that side of the ball.  "We are still a work in progress on that side of the ball.  Our kids are gaining a tremendous amount of confidence from week to week.  We spend a lot of time with that unit.  It was exciting to see our kids come out and execute and do the things we ask them to do as coaches and play some tough football.  We did a good job of tackling and getting a lot of hats to the football and causing a lot of problems in the backfield for their wide open, five wides offense," said Bradley.

          On defense you have to be aggressive to be successful, but Bradley says they have constantly been reminding their kids that they have to be disciplined too.  "We preach to our kids from day one discipline and hard work and being aggressive.  On the defensive side of the ball we want to be tough and physical all of the way around, but you definitely have to be disciplined and do your job and know your assignments.  I thought our kids did a good job of doing just that," he told Swankonsports.com, "We talked all along about them going into their spread out offense and the quarterback liked to elude pressure and throw the ball down the field.  Our defensive line did a good job of staying in their lanes and not giving up contain and if they got a chance to get their hands on the quarterback make the play.  Our guys in the secondary did a good job of staying in coverage."

          The Tygers are at home for the first time in conference play on Friday night when they host Ashland.  The Arrows (2-3,1-1) have now been as explosive this year as in some past years, but Bradley says Ashland is going to give them a tough game.  "We understand that Ashland is Ashland.  Coach Valentine does a phenomenal job with the kids over there.  We know year in and year out it is going to be a tough game.  Anytime we play Ashland we are in for a good one.  This is the biggest game of the season for us.  We talk all of the time about how the next game up is the biggest game.  We have to go in and prepare and have a great week of practice.  It should be an exciting football game.  Ashland is going to come in and do what they do.  They have doing it for quite some time now and they have had a lot of success doing that," said Bradley.

 

Published 9/29/14

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Mansfield Senior Still Searching on Defense

 

          Mansfield Senior has figured it out on offense, but on defense they still have some things to fix as they get into the meat of their schedule.

          They ran all over Clear Fork (61-42) in their "OCC" opener last week as they did whatever they wanted to do on offense.  Coach Chioke Bradley says the first thing they wanted to do was run the ball and with more than 300 yards on the ground they were able to do that.  "I think we did a pretty good job of executing the game plan.  We wanted to come out and establish the run and they play off of the run by passing the football and I think we did a pretty good job of doing that," he said.

          Defense has been a concern all season for the Tygers as three times they have allowed the opponent to score at least 30 points against them.  Bradley says they are still searching for the right combination of players and those guys have to be tougher.  "We have to find the right 11 guys.  We have been toying with a guy here and a guy there each week.  We haven't settled in on 11 guys and go with them.  I think we are going to take a look at our best 11 guys that we feel can help us win ball games this week.  Those guys have to go out and be tough and be disciplined and do what we ask them to do as coaches," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "If they can be disciplined and play tough football we should be able to improve on that side of the ball.  We run into problems when our kids are thinking too much and with the amount of inexperience we have on that side of the ball they get to thinking too much and that gets them out of position and it allows the opposing team to make big plays against us."

          Senior High (2-2,1-0) travels to Orrville (2-2,1-0) for their second straight Ohio Cardinal Conference game on the road.  Bradley looks for the Red Riders to try and throw the football quite a bit against them.  "In studying them on film they want to spread you out.  They are throwing the football a ton with four or five wides.  Their quarterback is a Rothlesberger type quarterback that runs around and finds ways to elude guys in the backfield and deliver the pass down the field.  We have to do a good job of containing him in the pocket and then we have to be able to cover guys down field and make good tackles," said Bradley.

 

Published 9/26/14

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Tygers Must Contain Chrastina

 

          Mansfield Senior is the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion and they begin defense of that title on Friday night at Clear Fork against the young Colts.

          The Tygers, inexperienced at many positions themselves, earned their first win last week in beating Marion Harding (45-18) at Arlin Field.  Coach Chioke Bradley thinks that win was pretty important for their confidence.  "It was definitely something we needed going into conference play, especially with the amount of inexperienced talent we have out on the field.  It was great for those guys to get a "W" before conference play and try to establish some confidence and feel good about themselves and not just hear their coach screaming at them all of the time," he said.

          They have made some changes to their lineup as the first three games progressed, including installing Mitch Nixon at quarterback last week.  Bradley says they are still searching a little bit.  "You never can tell we are still a work in progress as a team.  We are still trying to find the right people in all three phases of the game.  All in all I think the wheels are turning.  We are making some progress and guys are starting to take coaching and understand what we are trying to get accomplished.  If we continue to do that we stand a chance to be successful," he said.

          Clear Fork (2-1) has won two straight in beating Ontario (42-18) and Shelby (20-19) the last two weeks.  Bradley says the Colts are always going to be a challenge.  "Clear Fork is always a tough football team.  Dave Carroll has done a fantastic job down there with those guys over the years and this year is no different.  They are a tough. hard nosed football team led by Kadin Chrastina and he is a phenomenal athlete with the ball in his hands.  They also have some other guys on the team that can do some damage.  All in all when you turn the film on I see a well coached Clear Fork Colts team that is very typical of Dave Carroll and his football program,' said Bradley.

          Chrastina is one of the top quarterbacks in this part of the state.  He completed a game winning pass in the final seconds last week.  Bradley says containing him is a must.  "Over the last couple of years that is what our game plan has been.  You have to try and frustrate or contain the opposing team's number one guy, best player, or however you want to put it," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "When we evaluate the film we definitely see Kadin as their top guy on offense and he does some great things on defense as well.  We have to do everything we can to contain him.  Sure he is going to get some plays here an there, but we have got to limit those. We can't allow him to run all over us and throw all over us and have big explosive plays.  If that is what he does then we don't stand a chance."

 

Published 9/19/14

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Tygers with some work to do

 

          Mansfield Senior is coming off the best year in school history and now they are working to maintain that level as they look forward to the defense of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          Coach Chioke Bradley says they have been held back by some injuries and that has been a little bit of set back so far this month.  “It has been tough on us because we have some guys that are fighting through injuries.  That’s always tough when you are playing high school football and you have guys that want to get better and compete and fall short due to injuries.  We see a lot of positive things that we can build on, but the biggest thing right now is just getting guys back healthy,” he said.

          In terms of dealing with the injuries Bradley says the kids that have been asked to step up haven’t done a bad job, at least so far.  “We have done a pretty good job of absorbing them so far.  We just completed our second scrimmage on Friday and we didn’t do too bad considering all of the different injuries we had at key positions.  This is exactly the best time for us to deal with that with some of our backup guys who are doing a good job of getting some good football experience against top notch competition,” said Bradley.

          When putting together a team that is going to be competitive in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, Bradley says on defense you have to be able to do a number of things.  “Especially in our conference because every week it is a different team and a different offensive attack.  There are a bunch of different looks you get the spread with Ashland and turn around and a get a power look with Madison or West Holmes.  In our league it definitely keeps you on your heels because each and every week you have to be prepared for a couple of different looks.  I think that’s good, I think that helps our conference,” said Bradley.

          Over the past couple of years Mansfield Senior has been able to put a number of athletes on the field and they ran an explosive, wide open offense.  Bradley says they are going to try and do a lot of the same things this fall.  “We are tweaking a few things here and there, but mostly you are going to see a lot of the same things that we have done in the past with out offense.  We are going to tweak it a little bit to fit our personnel,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We try to evaluate our personnel and then put it an offense based on their skills.  So, our offense will still be pretty much the same, but we are going to add a little bit of different flavor to it.”

          The Tygers were able to throw the ball successfully last season with Jalen Reese, but they could run it too with the Tyquan Vickers.  Vickers is back and Bradley says they are going to give him the ball a lot.  “We feel pretty confident that Tyquan Vickers will carry the football for us this year.  Last year we was a sophomore and it took him a little while to get comfortable and understand what we were trying to get accomplished with that position.  With this year and him being a junior and coming back and knowing what we expect he has been doing a pretty good job of doing everything we ask him to do.  We have a couple of other backs too that are doing a good job,” said Bradley.

          The key to the season for the Tygers just might be how well they can play on defense.  Bradley says so far that is a question mark for the team.  “Our defensive personnel this year has a lot of potential, but potential will get you beat.  We have to find a way to put it all together and be disciplined and be physical.  Everything we do comes off of physical football.  We have athletes can that run, but we have to see how tough we are.  They are doing a great job of running to the football, but we are still a work in progress, but I like where my defense is at this standpoint,” he said.

 

Published 8/19/14

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Tygers Hoping to Build on Last Year’s Success

 

          2013 was likely the best season in Mansfield Senior football history as the Tygers went 10-0 in the regular season, won the outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title, and advanced to the second round of the division two playoffs.

          However, 19 kids that were a key part of that season have since graduated leaving the Tygers with a much younger group than they had a year ago.

          Chioke Bradley, the Tygers head coach, says the off season conditioning program was very successful and the players believe in themselves and that’s important.  “I thought we had a very productive off season.  We had great numbers of kids putting in time an effort to come out every day.  We have been hard at it since December and now it is all coming to a head.  We have been working pretty steady this summer with our camp days and seven on seven passing scrimmages and things of that nature.  I think it has been a real positive and successful off season,” he said.

          Coming off a year like they had last year everyone on Mansfield Senior’s schedule is going to be ready for them and Bradley says that means they have to be ready for everybody too.  “We talk about that all of the time and our kids understand that.  That’s why we work extra hard all of the time.  Everyday we are going to get everybody’s best from here on out.  It’s not going to get any easier for us, but I think we are up for the challenge,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are ready to get after it.  It’s a tough situation when you lose all of the players that we lost, but I’m really excited to see these young guys that we have and those young guys are excited as well to come out and duplicate the kind of success we have had in the past.”

          Most people are going to remember the skilled players from last year such as quarterback Jalen Reese or running back Tyquan Vickers or one of their receivers, but Bradley says this year’s success depends on finding some offensive lineman that can do the job.  “For us it is probably going to be just getting some football experience under our belts because again we are so young and we lost a lot of experience with 19 seniors leaving.  I think all in all we have to be successful up front.  We are going to go as far as our offensive line takes us,” he said.

 

Published 8/08/14

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Mansfield Senior Trying to Find Some Offense

 

          Mansfield Senior is becoming more competitive baseball team.  Their pitching is better, their fielding is improved, and now if they can just find a few more hits.

          The Tygers (1-5,0-4) won their first game of the season when they downed Mt. Gilead on Saturday in a non-conference game.  Coach Roy Steward says they making progress, no question.  "We have improved.  We lost a tough one 4-2 to Lexington last week, lost to Northmor Saturday 2-1 and then beat Mt. Gilead in the second game.  We are pitching the ball well, catching the ball well, we just aren't hitting right now."

          They have developed a pretty solid number one starter in sophomore Curtis French.  In fact, Steward says all of this top pitchers are young kids.  "He is a sophomore.  My better pitching are my young kids.  I have three good sophomore pitchers," he said.

          Steward says he hopes the win over Mt. Gilead will help in boosting the players confidence.  "I hope so.  My number one has pitched two four hitters this year and lost both games.  His head was down a little bit.  The team was really up Saturday after the win, especially after the tough 2-1 loss in the first game," he said.

          If the weather cooperates, which it looks like it won't, at least on Tuesday, Mansfield Senior will play Orrville (4-3,1-3), who has won its last three games, in back to back Ohio Cardinal Conference games.   Steward believes they can win it is just a matter of getting a few more hits.  "As long as the kids can put the bat on the ball I think we are going to be okay.  We had a real rough stretch," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We played Madison and Lexington right out of the gate and we just couldn't hit much.  This conference is a rough conference baseball wise.  There are no weak ones in there at all."

 

 

Published 4/15/14

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Mansfield Senior Slowly Getting Better

 

          This has been a great school year in terms of on the playing field or court for Mansfield Senior athletic teams and it just might continue into the spring.

          The Tygers baseball team is not going to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference title most likely, but great can be a relative term too.  It is clear that the baseball team is headed in the right direction under the leadership of coach Roy Steward.

          Weather has been a factor for everybody, but Steward told Swankonsports.com on Thursday that having the improved Arlin Field football field is a plus for them.  "I have a little bit of advantage because I have an artificial football field I can get on as long as it is warm enough.  It's hard to get all of the kids out there together.  You have to put some kids in the gym and try to get a lot of things done," said Steward.

          Mansfield Senior lost a pair of games to rival Madison by the same score (12-1) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play this week.  Like other coaches in the conference, Steward thinks the Tygers are making solid progress.  "I have seven starters returning this year.  I played three freshmen that lettered varsity last year.  They can play.  We are another good off season away from really starting to contend, but we are definitely better than we were last year," he said.

          Over the last 15 years, Mansfield Senior has traditionally lost a lot of upperclassmen in their baseball program, kids that just didn't come out for the team.  Steward says the problem even goes deeper than that.  "A lot of people don't realize the kids we lost even before they got to high school.  A lot of our good ball players open enrolled at Madison or went other places other than Mansfield," he said.

          The Tygers (0-2) are supposed to play South Central (1-1) in a non-conference game on Friday, but thunderstorms are predicted for the area.  Their next "OCC" series is next Tuesday and Wednesday against defending conference champion Lexington (1-1,1-1).

 

Published 4/04/14

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Mansfield Senior Drills Bowsher

 

          Mansfield Senior held one of the highest scoring teams in Ohio to only 50 points and Toledo Bowsher shot just 27 percent from the field and the Tygers beat the Rebels (66-50) in the division one regional semi-finals on Thursday night at Lima Senior High School.

          The Tygers (18-7) play Lakewood St. Edward (23-2) Saturday night at the University of Akron in the regional final with a chance to punch their first ticket to the state tournament since 2005.

          They got right at it from the start on Thursday night leading (14-5) after the first quarter and (35-15) at the half.  Coach J.T. Reese told Swankonsports.com after the win that his players knew what they were supposed to do and did it.  "I thought right from the beginning our defense was following the game plan, almost flawless that first half of basketball.  Our kids really followed the script," he said.

          Eight times this year Bowsher has scored more than 100 points, but they made only 18 of 67 field goals against Mansfield Senior and 3 of 23 from beyond the arch.  Reese says they were able to take them out of what they wanted to do.  "We allowed them to get a couple of long rebounds.  In first half we did a tremendous job.  They started to press a little bit, and what I mean by press is they put up a lot of shots and that bowed well for us because we rebounded well.  We had almost 50 rebounds," he said.

          Naradian James had 19 points and Mario Davidson added 16 for the Tygers.  Jalen Reese had 15 rebounds in the game.

          Coach Reese says they kind of ran our of gas in the fourth quarter, but then they found some new energy.  "In the fourth quarter the kids got tired a little bit and I didn't have any timeouts left and our kids got tired and we stopped attacking for a second and we missed some free throws, maybe for about a minute and half, three or four possessions, then we realized that we had to get back to attacking and we just went from there," said Reese.

          Mansfield Senior has not been in a regional final in nine years, but Reese says they aren't satisfied and still have goals to accomplish.  "We had three goals on the season.  To win the conference and we did that.  To get out of the districts and we did that.  Our ultimate goal is to get to the final four, down to the state, and we are four quarters from that.  Hopefully we can keep that going against a well coached, well disciplined, great program in Lakewood St. Ed's," said Reese.

 

Published 3/14/14

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Tygers Play Bowsher in Regional Match-up

 

          Mansfield Senior has been one of the more consistent boys' basketball programs in North Central Ohio over the last decade, maybe the most consistent, but they have not been to the regional tournament since 2006 when Gregg Collins was still their coach.

          That changes this week as they play Toledo Bowsher in the division one regional semi-finals in game scheduled for the University of Toledo's Savage Hall on Wednesday night, weather permitting.

          After losing five of their last six regular season games, the Tygers have seemed to play better in each of their tournament games against Mansfield Madison (59-56), Ashland (56-47) and then (43-29) last Saturday night in the district final against Perrysburg, the Northern Lakes League champion. 

          Coach J.T. Reese says he thinks they really are peaking during the tournament, the goal of every program.  "This is the time of year that you want to be  playing your best basketball.  I tell my guys that the next game you want to be playing better than your last and so far that has held true for us," he said.

          A real key for the Tygers (17-7) during this tournament run has been their ability to take the opponent out of what they are trying to do offensively with their defensive pressure, especially on the perimeter.  Reese says that has been an extension of what they have been doing all year.  "As far as our defensive pressure and our defensive philosophy that hasn't changed all year.  I just think that our team understands that a lot of easy baskets, a lot of the things we do offensively, come a little easier when we play defense at a good rate," said Reese.

          Toledo Bowsher (23-1), the Toledo City League champs, have seven times scored 100 points this year.  Reese says the Rebels can put the ball in the basket, not doubt.  "They have a high potent offense.  They like to get up and down.  It will be a good match-up," he said.

          Even with Bowsher's offensive potency Reese does not think this will be a game that will be just a fast break drill.  "They can play both styles.  They are diverse enough to slow down when they need too.  It will be a good match-up for us," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "It will be an up tempo game at certain points, but I don't think it will be that way the whole time, but certainly at certain junctures of the game it will be up and down."

          With the number of shots the Rebels tend to put up there are going to be rebounds to be had and Reese says they have to get there share of them if they are going to win.  "First of all we have to rebound.  They shoot the ball a lot and we have to get every rebound we can get.  We have to make our layups and our free throws," he said.

 

Published 3/12/14

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Defense the Difference for Tygers

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach J.T. Reese

 

          Mansfield Senior has advanced to the regional tournament in division one after a convincing victory of Northern Lakes League champion Perrysburg in the district final on Saturday night at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University.

          Trailing (8-3) after the first quarter the Tygers allowed only 21 points the rest of the way in downing Perrysburg (43-29) and will play Toledo Bowsher in a regional semi-final game on Wednesday night at the University of Toledo.

          The Tygers (17-7) held Perrysburg's leading scorer Nick Moschetti to just eight points on 2-of-21 shooting, 0-of-7 three point range.  "I thought we could bring some intensity on defense that they hadn't seen by getting in passing lanes," said Mansfield Senior coach J.T. Reese.  Moschetti scored 43 points earlier this season to establish a single game record for Perrysburg.

          Without big guys Donovyn Benson and Robert Jones the Tygers have become more perimeter oriented during the tournament.  Saturday night, they got a game high 17 points from guard Dejorr Gibson.  Reese says his guards have stepped it up.  "We have gotten outstanding play from our perimeter guys all year and we have just gotten better.  We have matured a little and having two games in a week we have just worked hard at improving," he said.

          After beating a Ashland team that had won five straight games coming into the game (56-47) in a super sectional final at Galion on Thursday night, Reese believes they have improved their play every game during the tournament.  "You want to be better the next game than you were the last.  I thought we played better (Saturday) then we did against Ashland.  We made our free throws at the end.  I thought we wore on them.  At the end of the game we were still fresh," he told Swankonsports.com on Saturday night after the win over Perrysburg.  Depth, especially on the perimeter, has been a plus for the Tygers all season.

          They are going to have to continue to get great defensive play in the regional.  The Bowsher Rebels have seven times scored at least 100 points in a game this year, with a high over 124 in a win over Fairport Harbor Harding this season.  It can be dangerous sometimes to try to compare scores, but Bowsher did lose to Toledo City League opponent Toledo Scott (72-66) this year, a team that Mansfield Senior beat (66-53) on December 7.

 

Published 3/09/14

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Tyger Troubles

 

          On Sunday, Mansfield Senior forfeited a win over West Holmes two weeks ago due to the use of an ineligible player and that cost the team an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title, but that was not the worse thing that was leaned this week about the school system or the program.

          Because of the lack of communication coming from Mansfield Integrated Learning Center Principal Robert Singleton and the athletic department Donovyn Benson was permitted to play in a game against West Holmes when his grades should not have allowed him to do so.

          Due to missing school due to weather the end of the grading period was pushed back from February 5 to February 12, just two days before the West Holmes game.  A source close to the situation informed me that there were repeated attempts to get a paper copy of Benson's grades from Singleton by both athletic administrators and other officials tied to the high school.  The Integrated Learning Center is part of the Mansfield City Schools, but not part of high school.  Singleton verbally told Athletic Director Laurie Romano that Benson was passing, but the paper grad card obtained later proved otherwise.

          Singleton, who was at one time the Principal of Malabar Middle School, was hired by form Superintendent Lloyd Martin, and was later transferred to the alternative school located on Hedges Street.

          Benson attended St. Mary's school through the eighth grade, and played junior high basketball for St. Peter's, then he transferred to Mansfield Senior for his freshmen year.  Last year, he was eligible the entire season and was only required to attend the team's study table on one occasion.  His transfer to the learning center was upon the request of his parents.

          Although the ultimate responsibility for maintaining his grades and his attendance lies with Donovyn, it appears to me that some adults, school administrators and teachers, have let him down.  I don't know if this is because he is a talented athlete or not, but if it is that is the case then its' a shame and should never have been allowed to happen.  I have always been a firm believer in that fact school should assist in molding a individual to be successful in life after school, whether that be through higher education or a successful entrant into the world of work.  That has not been done in this case.

          What goes on behind the scenes during basketball practice at Mansfield Senior I can not comment on personally, I have not attended one this year.  However, another source has told me that drugs may be an issue with the program and that is something that needs to be addressed

          Mansfield Senior will play on Friday night in the division one tournament at Galion High School.  Hopefully, the team will be able to come together and play well in that game.  Sometimes when situations like this come about teams can "circle the wagons" and play well together as a basketball team and that is what needs to happen with the Tygers on Friday for them to be successful.

          Whenever this season is over a comprehensive review of the Mansfield Senior program must be made and more over how students are educated at the learning center.              

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior NOT "OCC" Boys' Basketball Champion

 

          At a meeting of the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Sunday, Mansfield Senior officials apologized to rest of the members of the league for the use of an ineligible player in a game against West Holmes earlier this month and forfeited that win.

          That forfeiture gives West Holmes the outright "OCC" title rather than the Tygers.

          The player in question, Donovyn Benson, did not play in Mansfield Senior's games this past weekend against Clear Fork and Massillon.

          Due missed school days Mansfield Senior officials pushed the grading period back to February 5 and all grades for athletes were to be turned into the athletic office by February 12.  Grades in writing regarding Benson, who attends the Mansfield Integrated Learning Center on Hedges Street, were not received despite repeated attempts by athletic and high school administrators to obtain a copy of the grades.

          Principal Robert Singleton verbally told Senior High Athletic Director Laurie Romano that Benson was passing the required classes, however, when a paper copy was obtained by the Senior High administration Benson was not passing the required courses.

          On the floor Mansfield Senior beat West Holmes 61-53 on February 14, but now Mansfield City Schools officials say that Benson should not have been playing in that game.

          A source close to the situation told Swankonsports.com on Sunday that there is no accountability at the integrated learning center.

          Benson will not play for the remainder of the season.

 

 

Published 2/24/14

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Mansfield Senior Wants it Outright

 

          Mansfield Senior is not in a mood to be sharing.  They want the Ohio Cardinal Conference title all to themselves.

          They will be outright "OCC" champions if they can beat Clear Fork, a team they downed (64-40) about a month ago, but this time the game is at Clear Fork on Friday night.

          The Tygers (14-5,12-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, has lost three of its last four, but they have not been playing the little sisters of the poor either.  All three losses come to traditional powers in Gahanna Lincoln (66-62), Dayton Dunbar (78-70) and Lima Senior (73-65) on Tuesday. 

          Coach J.T. Reese says the last two weeks have not been easy.  "It has been tough for us, but it has gotten us ready for the tournament," he said.

          Lately the Tygers have been making too many turnovers and letting the other team get on the glass.  "What we have to do is understand that every possession is valuable and you can't take possessions off because when you do it comes back to bite you.  We have to limit turnovers and offensive rebounds," he said.

          Clear Fork (10-9,5-7) has two excellent guards in Ridge Winand, who has a chance to become the school's second all-time leading scorer by season's end, and running mate Kadin Chrastina.  Mansfield Senior held Winand, who averages 23 points per game, and has scored more than 30 five times this year, to just 13 points at Pete Henry.  Reese says you have to make him do things he doesn't want to do.  "He can do a number of things.  Ridge is a pretty good player.  A great left handed player.  If you let home use his strong hand he can get up to 30 on anybody," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Charstina is a good team guy.  He does a lot of things for them as far as rebounding and ball handling.  They will be a tough test."

          Again referencing that first game, Mansfield Senior was successful in forcing Clear Fork away from the basket.  Reese says that will be a goal again.  "That is what we want to do.  That is what we always want to do.  If they run an offense we want it to be beyond the three point line.  We want to pressure.  We want to rebound the ball and get out on transition," he said.

          A win Friday night means the Tygers win the "OCC" outright and a loss means they share it with West Holmes.  Reese says they have a point to prove.  "West Holmes is a worthy candidate to share the title with, but I'll tell you come Friday night we want to let everybody know that the Ohio Cardinal Conference runs through Mansfield Senior and hopefully we stay focused and do that," he said.

 

Published 2/21/14

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Piece of the "OCC" Title on the Line

 

         When you are a basketball player at Mansfield Senior you play in a lot of big basketball games, but their is none more important this year than the Friday night Ohio Cardinal Conference contest against West Holmes.

          To the winner goes no less than a share of the "OCC" title and chance to claim it outright.

        The Tygers dropped into a share of the lead with West Holmes after Orrville beat them (55-54) last Friday at Pete Henry Gym.

          But, then just as stunning as that loss was to some was their victory the next night over state powerhouse Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (59-57) in non-conference play.  Coach J.T. Reese says it was a huge win for the kids and the program.  "It is a quality program with quality kids and high quality skilled guys.  Our kids came in totally focused and we pulled the victory out," he said.

          Reese says they came to the gym on Saturday night with a lot more focus and desire.  "After dropping the one to Orrville on Friday our kids understood if you are not focused anybody can beat you.  So, we came back Saturday night a little bit more focused.  We were determined and mad a couple of shots and played some pretty good defense," said Reese.

          Then on Tuesday night the Tygers (13-3,10-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, aggressive schedule continued as they traveled to Gahanna Lincoln, the second seed in division one in the Central District.  The Blue Lions beat them (66-62) but Reese calls it a good loss.  "I thought we played really focused and determined.  We pretty much controlled the whole game and it got down to a couple of possessions there at the end there," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We missed a couple of shots.  We took some ill advised shots that gave them the victory.  We didn't take any steps back, so as coaches we are pleased about that.  We were focused and determined in that game also."

          With all of the chips on the table against West Holmes (16-4,10-2), #4 in our poll, Reese says this is just the kind of game they want to play in the final weeks of the season.  "You want to be playing meaningful games at the end of the season and I'll tell you what this game we have Friday night against this tough, well coached, West Holmes team coming in we expect to defend our home court and get a piece of that "OCC" title," said Reese.

          Knights senior guard Brady Arnold seems to be able to score as many points as West Holmes needs him too.  He had 40 last week against Wooster.  Reese says they have to control him, but they can't forget about the other guys.  "There is no doubt that he is the best scorer in our conference.  West Holmes starts and ends with him.  As long as we can make every shot tough and limit his easy looks we will be okay.  The other guys on the team are being more assertive and are a little more dangerous.  Like I said we are going to do what we normally do and defend our home court," said Reese.

 

Published 2/14/14

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Schedule Tough for Mansfield Senior

 

          Mansfield Senior plays host to Orrville on Friday night and a win will move the Tygers a step closer to the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          The win would give Mansfield Senior at last a one game lead with two to play.  A Madison upset of West Holmes on Friday would give Mansfield Senior no less than a share of the "OCC" title.

          On Tuesday night, the Tygers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Massillon Perry (56-39) in non-conference play.  Coach J.T. Reese says they started the game pretty slow.  "It was our first contest in a while that was a middle of the week game, so when we came out not firing on all cylinders we kind of anticipated that a little bit.  As the game wore on playing against a tough opponent like Massillon Perry that comes from a league that night in and night out it's a war they are pretty gritty guys.  We made a couple of changes and went small and it bowed well for us,' said Reese.

          With the versatility the Tygers (12-1,10-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, have on their varsity roster, Reese says they can do a number of different things both when they have the ball and when they don't.  "We knew coming in that we could do several things with the guys we had.  We were able to take Tuesday night go small because we are able to guard all five positions.  It was good to see those kids come through when we need them," he said.

          Orrville (9-7,5-5) will be at Pete Henry on Friday night.  The Tygers won big (68-39) at Orrville in early January.  Reese says the key is to play aggressive on defense without crossing the line.  "They are well coached.  Sly does a great job with them over there.  They have a new gym at Orrville and have some good things going on so they will come down here ready to play," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "The last time we played them I thought we pressured the ball well without fouling.  We were able to rebound also, so we did okay.  Come Friday it may be a different story.  We will guard them all over the floor, rebound, and hopefully some shots go in for us."

          State and national power Akron St. Vincent/St Mary comes to Mansfield on Saturday night for a non-conference game.  Reese says they have the talent to test them.  "No question about it, especially this time of year.  Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary everyone knows them pretty much around the country.  You know they are going to bring a lot of athleticism, a lot of intensity.  We will have to be ready," said Reese.

 

Published 2/07/14

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Tygers Must Shoot Better

 

          The last time Mansfield Senior played Lexington about a month ago they lost their only game so far this season and they get a chance to make amends on Friday night as they host the Minutemen at Pete Henry Gym.

          Right now, the Tygers lead West Holmes by a game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings so every game is important to their chances of defending their title.

          Last week, Jalen Reese executed a three point play with 1.6 seconds to play to lift the Tygers to a (64-61) win over Ashland in league play.  Coach J.T. Reese says they just made a couple more plans than did Ashland.  "After looking at the game again Ashland is a well coached team and they played their game and we played ours and the ball fell our way a couple of more times," he said.

          School has been out of session this week due to the serve cold weather, but Reese says they have been able to remain consistent in terms of practice and hopes their play will not be affected.  "We will see come Friday if it bothers us a little bit.  What we try to do is our practice time is the same.  We try to keep as close to the schedule as we can throughout the cold weather.  We try to keep it as normal as possible," he said.

          Mansfield Senior (11-1,9-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, does host Lexington (8-7,4-5) on Friday night.  The Minutemen upset the Tygers (60-49) in the first game between the two.  Senior High shot just over 20 percent from the field, many of them perimeter shots.  Reese says they have to make a better percentage and not put Lexington on the foul line so much.  "We have to make a couple of more baskets than we did before.  I think our stats showed us 16 for 60, which woks out to 21 or 22 percent.  That stinks and we have to be better there.  We fouled them two and half times more than they fouled us," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Those are two things we are going to have to chance to put us in a better situation.  You know, hats off the Lexington, they came in with a game plan and they played well."

          Call it revenge, call it what you will, Reese is just pleased to be able to play the Minutemen again.  "It's great that we get the opportunity to play them again and hopefully we get the kind of effort and result we are looking for," he said.

 

Published 1/30/14

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Tygers Expecting a Fight

 

          Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Mansfield Senior pays a visit to Ashland on Friday night to play the Arrows at their place.

          Mansfield Senior (10-1,8-1) swept their "OCC" games last weekend in beating Clear Fork (64-40) on Friday and downing rival Mansfield Madison (61-48) on Saturday. 

          In a game were 54 foul shots where tried, the Tygers outlasted Rams.  Mansfield Senior coach J.T. Reese says they found a way to win the game by getting the ball in the paint.  "Hats off to Madison.  They made it their style of game.  They made it a style of game they can compete in, but our kids prevailed," he said.

          With balance on the floor and kids with a number of skills, Reese says they have the ability to take the best shot from opponents and find a way to adjust.  "In the second half of the season teams are used to you and they know what your first punch is going to be.  If your a good ball club after that first punch do something else and that was what we were able to do," he said.

          Ashland (4-7,2-4) struggled over the first half of the season, but they beat Madison (69-49) last Friday and then blasted Loudonville (71-45) on Wednesday.  Reese says the Arrows do a lot of good things.  "We got a chance to see them (Wednesday) night against Loudonville.  If you let those guys be comfortable and do what they do every day at practice they will beat you.  We are going to try and not let them get comfortable," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          The Arrows have some kids, like Isaac White and Brett Vipperman, that can make perimeter shots.  Reese says they have to defend that, but he knows what Ashland can do.  "It seems like everybody's shooting percentage goes up five, seven points when they play us, so we expect them to make some shots on (Friday) night and hopefully we make a couple more," he said.

          The name Mansfield Senior appears in red on every "OCC" opponents schedule.  Reese says the understand they are going to get everyone's best and that includes Ashland.  "I wouldn't want it any other way, especially in a conference game.  The gap between us and the rest is less than it has been over the years, so everybody thinks if they come out and give us their best shot they can win the game," said Reese.

 

Published 1/24/14

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Mansfield Senior Needs to Take Advantage

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach J.T. Reese

 

          After a wins last week over West Holmes and Wooster, Mansfield Senior has moved back into a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with Holmes.

          This week they face two “OCC” opponents that each have but one conference win in Clear Fork (3-6,1-4) at home on Friday and rival Mansfield Madison (4-7,1-5) on Saturday. 

          A 9-0 early third quarter run led the Tygers (8-1,6-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, to (67-41) win over West Holmes.

          Coach J.T. Reese says a 35-16 advantage on the boards was a big help against the Knights.  “They are a solid team at home, well coached, and they have great player over there in Brady Arnold.  They do a good job, but I think what ended up happening is we rebounded the ball well, was able to apply some pressure, and was able to push the lead out,” said Reese.

          Arnold finished with 21 points in the game for West Holmes.

          The Tygers also beat Wooster (51-45) on Saturday night.  Reese says their depth can be an advantage not matter who they play.  “I have been around basketball a long time and it’s a game of spurts and as long as you spurt at the right time you can take a lead from two possessions to four, five or six.  Luckily with our depth we can spurt at the right time and use that to our advantage,” said Reese.

          Clear Fork is led by one the area’s leading scorers in Ridge Winand.  He has scored more than 30 points five times this season.   Reese says he can do a lot of things and they need to make him take tough shots.  “Ridge Winand is an excellent scorer.  He has a pull up game and can get to the basket.  He has a strong left hand.  We are going to try and cover him with tightest coverage we can and make it tough on every shot,” he said.

          On Saturday night, Senior High has a re-match with Madison.  They crushed the Rams in the first meeting (86-45), but Reese expects a tougher game on the road this time.  “I think both teams are not the same team as they were when we first started.  We were trying to find our identity with our first game and I think they were trying to do the same.  They are a young team and after so many games they have grown up a lot.  They are not same team at home in a brand new gym, so they will be a formidable opponent,” said Reese.

 

Published 1/17/14

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Mansfield Senior Trying to Find Itself

 

          Over the first six weeks of the season Mansfield Senior had proven to be one of the better girls’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio, but lately they have struggled with inconsistency.

          They were blown out by West Holmes (83-30) on January 4, lost to Clear Fork (42-34) last Thursday, but did respond and beat arch rival Madison (59-36) last Saturday.

          Coach Todd Krill says they have been pretty sloppy on both ends of the court.  “It has been very uneven.  I can contribute a little bit of it to not playing very good defense and not working very hard on offense either.  We weren’t working to get open and a lot of our stuff was just breaking down.  I thought we played pretty well against Madison.  We played as a team, team offense and team defense,” he said.

          After the win over Madison, Krill hopes the girls have learned something about teamwork.  “That’s what I hope.  We have been trying to tell our girls when we are showing them film that when they are playing as a team offensively and defensively we can be a very good team, but when we are coming down and not really working the ball an sometimes not playing really good team defense we are not a very good team.  So, we are trying to get them to understand the more we play as a team the better off we are going to be in the long run,” said Krill.

          Thursday night marks the second meeting of the season between the Lady Tygers (9-4,5-3) and Ashland (10-4,5-4) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play, this time at Pete Henry gym.  The Lady Arrows won the first meeting (54-48) in Ashland in December.  Krill says Ashland has two very good post players they must deal with.  “Mansburger and Stoops are just too very good ball players.  They are kind of different ball players.  The Stoops girl is very athletic and can play out on the perimeter or play inside.  Mansberger is more of a pounder inside.  She will make you work for everything.  She is very strong and has good strong post moves.  You have to really take care of their inside game and hopefully they aren’t very hot from the outside,” said Krill.

          The tournament draw comes up in about three weeks and Krill says the scenario will be a little different this year for division one teams.  “This year is a little different.  We are heading up to Fostoria.  They are having a nine team super sectional.  There are teams up there that are going to be pretty good,” he told Swankonsports.com, “For example, Perrysburg will be sitting up there, and Anthony Wayne and Holland Springfield are all pretty good teams and they are all going to be in the same sectional as with us, but we might not see those teams until the first or even the second game of districts.  We just need to keep playing and get a good win loss record going into sectionals so we can get a decent seed.”

 

Published 1/16/14

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Mansfield Senior Wants to Get Part of the Lead

 

          Mansfield Senior has a chance to take back a share of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with a win Friday night at West Holmes, the conference leader.

          After loosing to Lexington two weeks ago, the Tygers used their pressure to beak open a close game at halftime into a big win (68-39) at Orrville last week.  Coach J.T. Reese says they kind of out lasted the Red Riders.  “Orrville is a well coached team and they do things well over there.  They came out tough and made a couple of shots.  We were able to extend our pressure a little later on, which pushed us away,” he said.

          With a dominate presence in the post, Reese says they need their guards to spread the defense by being a threat to make outside shots.  “It’s not so much about making the shots, but we want our guys to be guarded.  A lot of the time they seem to be packing it in because of Donovyn Benson down low is a hand full, so we just want the guys that are on the perimeter to be a threat and we were just that last Friday,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (6-1,4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, is at West Holmes (9-2,5-0), #4 in the poll, on Friday night.  Reese says the Knights have the best player in the league.  “They are a solid team that is well coached.  They play hard.  They have a guy in Brady Arnold that is probably the best player in our conference.  He is going to take a lot of shots, make or miss, he is going to get a lot of shots up.  We have to stay solid, rebound the ball, and guard without fouling,’ said Reese.

          Arnold averages around 20 points a game and is the all time leading scorer at West Holmes.  Reese says they want him to play defense on Friday night too.  “We are going to challenge him and make him play a little defense because I think what happens is when you shoot as many times as he does, and their offense is all ran through him, your focus is not on defense, so we are going to go at him and see how that works for us,” he said.

          When it comes to guarding Arnold, Reese thinks they have the answer.  “We have got guys over here that know Brady Arnold pretty well and have guarded him over the years.  We have had some success with him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “What we are going to do is run several guys at him, so offensively it will be tough for him. So hopefully we can wear him out.  Defensively we are going to attack him and hopefully get him into some foul trouble.”

 

Published 1/09/14

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Mansfield Senior Ready to Get Back at it

 

           Well, this will not be a year when Mansfield Senior goes unbeaten during the regular season, but all of the rest of their goals are still within their grasp even after a loss to Lexington last week.

          Lexington limited Mansfield Senior to just 29% of their field goal attempts and handed the Tygers their first loss of the season (60-49) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.  They now trail league leader West Holmes by a game in the conference standings.

          Coach J.T. Reese says they just got beat.  “I thought Lexington came out with a good game plan.  It was the same thing we have been going against all year.  They packed it in and let us shoot and we didn’t make shots.  They were the best team,” he said.

          He says one difference in their play against Lexington was they were not able to get steals without fouling, the Minutemen made 21 of 32 free throws.  “We have been counting on our defensive pressure and try to score off that, but we fouled them and put them at the line and they made their free throws, so our defensive pressure wasn’t working and also we didn’t make shots,” he said.

          On Friday night the Tygers (5-1,3-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, is at Orrville (6-2,3-1), a winner of its last five games.  Reese says they have to play at their top of their game because he expects that Orrville will be.  “What we have to realize is every team we play against is going to give us their best game effort and energy wise.  That’s what they did and we let them get going at home and it’s hard to stop that,” said Reese.

          The Tygers really hadn’t been challenged in their previous five games and Reese says he expects them to battle back on Friday night.  “I think we needed a lesson.  I think it opened our eyes and we needed something like that,” he said.

          He says it is all about competing.  “We will fine tune some things and get after it and compete.  We will get it going and we will continue,” he said.

 

Published 1/03/14

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Mansfield Senior Puts First Place on the Line

 

          Mansfield Senior has ran past, jumped over, and pretty much destroyed the will of every opponent they have played this season and yet they have even more potential.

          They have a team that includes experience with 10 seniors, they have height, they have speed, good shooters, strong rebounders and more than anything great depth.

          The Tygers (5-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball  coach’s poll in the large school division, belted Wooster (57-33) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday and hen traveled to Sandusky and beat the Blue Streaks (74-36) on Saturday in non-conference play.

          Coach T.J. Reese says they have done good things with the ball and without the ball this season that has led to their success on the floor.  “I think initially, the first couple of games, we passed the ball pretty well.  I am not quite sure how many assists we average, but we have had 24, we have had 18, another game with 15 plus, which translates into easy baskets.  That has been a bright spot,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Another bright spot for us is something that I really wasn’t expecting to be at this level early was the defensive pressure.  That’s our motto, that’s our mainstay and that’s been pretty good do far.”

          Lexington (3-3,0-2) plays host the Tygers on Friday night in a league game.  Reese says they Minutemen know how to play and they have young guys with a zeal for the game.  “What impresses me about the Minutemen is a couple of things.  First they are young.  They play a lot of young guys.  I know they do have some seniors on their team, but they have some young contributors, which is a bright spot for them.  Another thing that is a bright spot for them is they play well at home and that is where we have them on Friday,” he said.

          Lexington took “OCC” co-leader West Holmes to overtime when they played them at home before losing (53-50) earlier this month.

          Madison is a rival for Tygers, Ashland says they are rivals with the Tygers and that has been the case for the Mansfield Senior and Lexington for many years.  Frankly, Reese says they don’t look at the Minutemen any different than any other team in the league.  “As far as them being a rival every team that we play in our conference is going to give us their best shot, so as far as a rival is concerned I just don’t know if we treat it like that in respect to every team and every game, especially at their place they are going to be keyed up and give us their best shot and I expect that (Friday) night also,” said Reese.

          With the success that Mansfield Senior has had in the last 20 years, Reese knows they have to be at their best every night.  “I wouldn’t want anything less to be honest with you.  I want a team coming at me and my team full throttle and give us their best shot because that gets us prepared for the next one and down the line.  Like I said, I wouldn’t want it to be anything less than their best shot,” he said.

 

Published 12/27/13

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Mansfield Senior Plays at Wooster

 

          Mansfield Senior will face its first road test in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this year as the Tygers are at Wooster to play the Generals on Friday night.

          The Tygers (3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, ran out to a 17-3 lead and went on to beat Ashland (56-41) in a conference game at Pete Henry last Friday.

          Coach J.T. Reese thinks their tremendous on the ball pressure lead to that early spurt.  “Early on I thought our defensive pressure was good, which made them a little apprehensive and not look to score.  They settled in and we settled in and were able to move it out again,” said Reese.

          With the Tygers they try to be relentless when it comes to their on the ball pressure.  Reese thinks that leads to a lot of points for them.  “For us our defensive pressure always dictates what kind of offense we can run and how easy our baskets come,” he said.

          Even with their fast break potential and their ability to score off mistakes, the Tygers still have to execute in the half court.  Reese says that part of their game is coming along slowly, but surely so far this season.  “I think everybody knows our half court offense tends to be what’s consistent in our total game.  Everybody understands we need to get better at that, so it is a work in progress,” Reece told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          Wooster (2-3,1-1) might be the second most athletic team in the conference, next to the Tygers.  They have height and quickness and Reese they are also at home.  “Plus they get to play at home, everybody plays well at home.  This is our first road test and it should be fun to watch,” he said.

          As far as playing in a hostile gym, Reese says they have been pretty good at that over the years and hopefully that will continue this season.  “At least for us it is just us when I am talking to the team in the game about the job at hand.  For us it seems we are a little more focused on our assignments when we are on the road at opposed to when we are at home,” said Reese

 

Published 12/20/13

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Mansfield Senior Meets Ashland

 

          Mansfield Senior is the defending champion and preseason choice to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title this winter.

          They opened the season last Friday when they cruised past rival Mansfield Madison (86-45) behind Donovyn Benson’s 17 points.  Coach J.T. Reese admits thins went very well.  “We just wanted to get out and get our guys up and down the floor.  It was the first time in a long time that we got to go against another opponent.  Our guys were excited,” said Reese.

          The Tygers got right back on the floor Saturday, hosting Toledo Scott.  The Tygers came away with another win (66-53) over the Bulldogs.  Reese says it was important for them to prove they could execute on a double weekend, especially early in the season.  “I wanted to get our guys right back on the court and test our endurance.  We need the conditioning bad.  It was just a blessing throughout to have a team that was going to get up and down the very next day,” said Reese.

          With Mansfield Senior the clear choice to win the “OCC,” a lot of people are saying Ashland is the second best team in the league.  It’s Ashland (1-2,0-1) that plays the Tygers at Pete Henry Gym on the Friday night.  After a set back to West Holmes (58-55) in their first league game the Arrows got a win in non-conference play over Sandusky (59-42) on Tuesday night.  Reese says they have some players.  “They have a couple of scorers and everyone of them can shoot.  They are well coached and they run their system well.  They believe it what they do.  It’s going to be a formidable opponent,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior has great talent and they put it to good use.  Reese says their approach to each game is pretty straight forward.  “The formula for us is pretty simple.  We have to play aggressive defense without fouling, rebound the basketball, and run the floor,” he said.

 

Published 12/12/13

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Mansfield Senior Opens With Madison

 

          Mansfield Senior is the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference and division one super sectional champion and they open their regular season with a game against their biggest rival in the Madison Rams at Pete Henry Gym on Friday night.

          Of course, the Tygers had a great football season, but coach J.T. Reese says he is ready to get the basketball season started.  “I’m happy for these guys.  I am happy about the football season we have had.  I am glad we have them all in the gym now and we are ready to go,” he said.

          Reese says it seems like they were just playing Madison even though it was in another sport.  “You have to be ready right off the bat.  You have to be ready to execute.  It is kind ironic that the last regular season football game we had was against Madison and the first basketball game in the same season is against Madison.  We will be ready and we will be motivated,” he said.

          Madison won only two games last year and they lost their opener to Shelby (62-61) last Friday.  However, Reese says they have good players and Tygers are going to have to guard them aggressively.  “They are a good team, they play hard and are well coached.  They are young also, which can pose some problems,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “What we will do is we will test their metal by trying to guard them as long as possible and as tough as possible.  We will let the chips fall were they may after that.”

          In the loss to Shelby, Madison guard Cory Van Tilberg made seven three pointers and Reese knows they are not only going to have to be able to press them, but also get a hand in the face of shooters.  “We will have to defend passing lanes.  We can’t allow their shooters to have open shots.  We will have to rebound the ball and we will have to run.  Also we have to sustain pressure and sustain energy from all of our guys and we are going to play a lot of people,” said Reese.

 

Published 12/5/13

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Lady Tygers off to Excellent Start

 

          While many of the other teams in the Ohio Cardinal Conference are getting all of the notoriety, Mansfield Senior is quietly putting together a pretty good girls’ basketball season.

          After an opening night loss to Norwalk (44-43), the Lady Tygers have strung together wins over Marion Harding (56-34), Shelby (64-47) and Findlay (59-44) as they approach their Ohio Cardinal Conference opener with cross town rival Mansfield Madison on Thursday night.  Coach Todd Krill says they have been doing good things on both offense and defense.  “We are very happy with the way we have been playing.  We have been doing a real good job of playing solid defense and running our offense.  We have been sharing the ball pretty well this year and we are shooting it pretty well this year too.  So, we are happy so far with what we have seen,” said Krill.

          Even with the three game winning streak in hand, Krill says they still have things they can improve on, such as the execution of their half court offense.  “Coaches are never satisfied.  I think sometimes we need to be a little bit more consistent within our offense.  A couple times we don’t run it all of the way through and reverse the ball, sometimes we take quick shots instead of working it for a better shot.  And we can get better at defense,” he said.

          Madison (2-1) has won its last two by beating Crestview (74-44) and Loudonville (48-44) in non-conference play.  Krill says they Lady Rams are a team that likes to get up in you on defense.  “They do a very good job with their run and jump full court defense and fall back to man to man with it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “We have to be very aware sometimes they like to run that run and jump off of made baskets and off of missed baskets also.  We just have to be solid with the ball and make sure we are looking up the floor for an open person.”

          In other “OCC” games on the opening night on Thursday Orrville is at preseason favorite West Holmes, Clear Fork hosts Ashland, and Lexington plays Wooster.  Krill says after West Holmes, who has made to the final four the last two years and has almost everybody back, it’s going to be a good balanced league.  “I was out scouting (Tuesday) night and talking with a couple of our “OCC” coaches and we were talking about how strong the league is this year and it’s pretty strong from top to bottom and you just can’t walk in there and think you are going to get a win without being prepared,” he said.

 

Published 12/4/13

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Mansfield Senior to Spend This Week Preparing

 

          Coming off an outstanding football season that saw the Tygers go two weeks deep in the state playoffs, the basketball season will be pushed back a week to allow coach J.T. Reece to prepare his players.

          There first game will be their Ohio Cardinal Conference opener next Friday against the rival Madison Rams.

          Coach Reece believes that the success they had on the gridiron, which included a 10-0 regular season and an outright “OCC” title is going to make them a better basketball team too.  “I most certainly do.  I feel winning is contagious.  I just hope we translate a lot of things these guys did on the football field to hardwood and I think it will,” he said.

            Most of the Tyger basketball players were involved in football too.  Reece he believes they were able to create some additional depth with the players that were not participating in football.  “With the varsity and JV combined we have had 17, 18 guys out there.  At the same time one of our strengths this year will be our depth,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We were able to keep it rolling.  The guys that were showing up kind of held things down until these guys were ready and now we are all back together.”

          With the additional weeks of football practice, Reece says he and the basketball coaching staff were able to give some extra attention to some players that needed the improvement to their game.  “A lot of the guys that didn’t play football needed that little bit of extra instruction.  A little of those extra eyes on them to enhance our team overall.  With the football guys out we were able to hone in on some of the other guys and get those guys ready to go,” said Reece.

          This will be the first season in four that the Tygers will be without All-Ohio player Keon Johnson.  Where will they miss him the most?  Reece says it will be his ability to score when they needed it the most.  “I think a lot of what we are going to miss with Keon is he could just flat out score.  He can dominate the game on that end of the court.  We are going to miss him putting the ball in the basket,’ said Reece.

          Depth will again be a big factor for the Tygers this year.  Reece says it will allow them to play a lot of in your face defense.  “The key to our depth is not some much guys having off nights.  The key to our depth is the defensive intensity and pressure we can apply all night long with 10 or 11 guys.  That is where it will put us over the top in a lot of tough situations,” he said.

 

Published 11/26/13

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Mansfield Senior in Good Shape

 

          Mansfield Senior has not met expectations, at least in the mind of the coaching staff, over the last several seasons, and they plan to fix that this year.

          Veteran coach Todd Krill says he is really happy with what they have accomplished during the preseason and he expects this year to be a good one for the Lady Tygers.  “I have really been happy with the way we have been playing so far in the preseason.  We keep asking the girls to step it up, step it up.  They have done nice job over here for the last three weeks.  They have really stepped it up and we have put a lot of things together.  It is more put together this year than it has been the last three years.  We are happy where we are at right now,” said Krill.

          When taking a look at their personnel and what would be the best way to make the Lady Tygers into a strong team, Krill says they will be approaching the game a little bit differently.  “We have changed some things this year with the way we practice.  The attitude a work ethic has been good.  We went back and took a look at the last three years and what we wanted to do.  So, we changed some things and I think the girls are really willing to go with the changes and really stepped it up for us,” he said.

          If you are going to make changes in what you do on the floor, Krill says everybody has to embrace it and so far that is what is happening at Mansfield Senior.  “Chemistry is the reason that a lot of teams get pretty far in the state tournament and also have a very good year.  When you work together it usually means more “W’s” for your basketball team.  That’s what we are hoping to get.  We are trying to make sure the girls are understanding that they have to work together to be successful and that sometimes is as important as the talent you put on the floor,” said Krill.

          The girls’ basketball season opens this weekend and Mansfield Senior will play in the Bucyrus Hospital Tip-Off Classic at Bucyrus High School.  They play Norwalk on Friday and the winner of a game between Marion Harding and Bucyrus on Saturday.  Krill believes it will be a good test.  “I think we have some pretty good teams sitting in there for Friday and Saturday.  Norwalk is a pretty sound team and they like to get up and down the floor.  They pretty much have a wide open offense with some motion and a little flex here and there.  We have to make sure we sit down and play good defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Marion Harding brings back some pretty good girls.  The Davis girls and the Stevens girl are the ones we are going to have to watch out for.  Bucyrus brings back pretty much there whole team with three girls that can be first or second team in their conference.  I think it is a stronger tournament this year.”

 

Published 11/19/13

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Turnovers and Run Defense Big Keys For Tygers

 

          So far this season Mansfield Senior has been successful at every turn.  They produced the first undefeated regular season in school history and won an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title.  Then last week they won the first playoff game in more than a decade.

          On Friday night, the Tygers (11-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, shutout a very good Licking Heights team (24-0) in the division two regional quarterfinals at Arlin Field.  Coach Chioke Bradley says this is a program that has come a long way in a short period of time.  “I think they did a good job if coming out and playing some hard, tough Tyger football and understanding the situation, which is we have come a long way in the Tyger football program.  We needed something big to happen, something positive to happen.  I think the guys did a great job in coming out and doing that,” he said.

          There is lot of talking about x’s and o’s and records and stats and this and that, but Bradley says overall having success and winning playoff games is just fun.  “It is exciting for me as a football coach.  It is exciting for our seniors and our underclassmen.  We started out as a program with those guys when they were young guys, eighth graders, and to watch them grow up to be the players and the fine young men they have become over the last few years has been very exciting.  To be able to turn the whole thing around and say they were part of history with no undefeated teams before is amazing,’ said Bradley.

          Mansfield Senior meets New Albany (10-1) in the regional semi-finals on Friday night at Delaware Olentangy High School.  The Eagles beat Columbus Northland (35-21) in the first round as they ran for more than 400 yards.  Bradley says they make no bones about it they want to run the football.  “That is what they do.  When you are in the playoffs you have to stop the run.  They are one of the best at running the football.  It doesn’t get any easier.  Every week you get a brand new opponent and a tougher opponent.  We have to stop the run,” he said.

          New Albany had two backs over 100 yards last week and Bradley says they do an excellent job at the point of attack with a well coached offensive line.  “They are fundamental sound and well coached.  You can tell the success they have had in the running department that they are a well coached football team.  That is a credit to them with the way they have had a lot of success running the football,” he said.

          To get to the third round of the postseason and continue what is likely they best season in school history, Bradley says they can’t have mistakes and they must be the ones that make the big plays.  “Number one we have to take care of the football offensively.  We can not have costly turnovers.  Then we have to execute whenever we get an opportunity to make a play we need to make it.  That’s not always a touchdown.  That can be a first down or a touchdown,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That is everybody across the board O-line, receivers, running backs and the quarterback.  Defensively we have to tackle and be physical up front and get up and play fast.  They are a big team.  They are bigger than us.  If we play fast and execute our game plan, if they do what we tell them to do on the field and be smart football players, and be disciplined, and tough tacklers, we stand a chance to be successful.”

 

Published 11/15/13

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Mansfield Senior Looks For Playoff Win

 

          This has already been a season of firsts for the Mansfield Senior Tygers and they hope to continue perhaps the best season in school history with a first round playoff win over Licking Heights on Friday night in a division two regional quarterfinal at Arlin Field.

          Last week, the rival Madison Rams took a 16-14 lead early in the third quarter, but the Tygers rallied to beat the Rams (45-16) to finish with the first 10-0 season in the school’s 114 years of football and earn an undisputed Ohio Cardinal Conference title.  Senior High coach Chioke Bradley says he knew it would be a tough game.  “You have to give those guys a lot of credit.  They came out and played a phenomenal football game.  They played us tough and hard nosed.  Just like any rival game you throw the records out.  The best team shows up at the end of the game when the clock shows zero,” he said.

          Licking Heights (9-1) suffered its only loss to Licking Valley (33-14) on week eight.  Bradley says the Hornets are a physical team that likes to run the ball.  “They are a big team.  They have a lot of athletes running around.  They have a quarterback who does a great job running their system.  They are 90 plus percent run versus the pass,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They do a great job at it.  They are big up front.  They have some athletic tailbacks that know how to make you miss.  They have an extremely athletic quarterback.”

          Mansfield Senior (10-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, was rarely challenged this year for 48 minutes.  One of the few times was when they held on to beat run heavy West Holmes (23-17) also at Arlin Field.  Bradley says Licking Heights is a different kind of run team.  “They remind me of West Holmes, but at the same time their running backs versus West Holmes running backs is a little different because West Holmes running backs were big guys, who were power running guys.  These guys are a little more slim at the feet.  They have a little bit more wiggle to their game,” he said.

          Defensively, Bradley says the Hornets are able to get some pressure on the passer and they play a deep zone.  “Defensively they are running a great scheme with four down lineman, three linebackers and a cover three on the back end.  They keep everything in front so it’s hard to throw the deep ball against them because the safeties are deep.  They have a big time defensive end number 33.  He comes hard off the edges.  He creates a lot of problems for offensive linemen.  We are going to have to pay special attention to him.  Defensively I think they do a great job of running their defense.  They don’t blitz a lot, but when they do blitz they get pressure.  They don’t play a lot of man coverage so you have to be technically sound and execute your game play against them,” said Bradley.

 

Published 11/08/13

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Mansfield Senior Wants Outright “OCC"

 

          Mansfield Senior has a chance to do something it has never done before complete a 10-0 regular season and with that would come an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          The only thing that stands in their way is the arch rival Mansfield Madison Rams.

          The Tygers (9-0,6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Lexington (44-7) last week.  However, coach Chioke Bradley was not happy with the start of the game.  “I think we could have come out and did a lot of things better.  We came out flat a little bit with a lack of focus.  We definitely did come out the way I expected or the way we wanted too at the beginning of the game.  We went in at halftime and I said few things to the guys and we had a different outcome when we came out for the second half.  If am looking for our guys in all three phases of the game offense, defense, and special teams to come out an play like they were playing in the second half for four quarters.  That is what we have been preaching all week,” said Bradley.

          Madison hammered Mansfield Senior last year (34-0) on the last week of last season to create a three tie for the title between Mansfield Senior, Madison and West Holmes.  The Rams (3-6,2-4) have struggled at times this fall, but Bradley says they still play the same way.  “They do a lot of things well.  They are a tough team.  They have a great coaching staff over there.  They are extremely physical up front.  That is just the Madison way.  They are going to run the football.  They have some talented running backs.  They have some skilled guys that get to all of the edges,” he said.

          Bradley expects Madison to play very hard and very physical and he thinks that will be the key for them too.  “Defensively, coach (Jamie) Masi is going to do everything he can to foul us up and scheme us and attack our quarterback.  We just have to execute and do the things we practiced throughout the week and continue to get better as a football program,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think if we come out and play tough, hard nosed football as soon as we come out of that locker room in the first quarter, match their intensity.  It’s a rival game, so both teams are going to be riding high, the emotions will be high.  Honestly I think the team that is the most physical the first couple of quarters will have the edge going into the second half and I just hope that is my ball team.”

          Madison has had games when they have thrown less than five passes over the entire 48 minutes.  Bradley says they could change their approach, but probably not.  “I would put anything past them both teams will try to come out and do whatever they can to get an edge one way or another.  They might come out throwing the football 15 or 20 times.  I am a firm believer in you do what you do.  You do what got you to this point.  They are a team that runs the football well, that’s their strongpoint, they have backs, they have an offensive line that blocks well at the point of attack.  It would shock me if they came out and started throwing the football all over the place,” said Bradley.

 

Published 11/01/13

© Swankonsports.com  

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Still Getting Better

 

          Mansfield Senior has beaten every team they have played this year and they have really only been challenged once, but their coach says they are still striving to get better and that is a good thing.

          Last week, the Tygers (8-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Wooster (45-21) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game,

          Coach Chioke Bradley says they didn’t start out very well, it was tied at 14 early in the third quarter, but they were able to get the players attention.  “It was a combination of several things.  Our kids came out a little flat and I was little disappointed in that.  Once we head down the road with the rest of the season I have tried to stress to the kids to come out ready to play or a good football will beat you.  We kind of regrouped after that first quarter and started to put some things together.  Coming out in the game some of our kids, not all of them, were a little flat and a little complacent and weren’t doing their assignments.  We had some mental mistakes, but we kicked them in the butt a little bit and got it going in the second half,” said Bradley.

          Tyquan Vickers had another big game out of his running back position for the Tygers with 228 yards and three scores.  Bradley says he has really come into his own.  “Tyquan has been doing a great job for us for the last six, seven games.  In the summer it was like running back by committee and we just wanted to make sure everybody was hungry and we had about three guys we were looking at.  I am a big fan of competition and those guys competed.  We were just waiting on someone to emerge out of that pack and he seems to get better week after week.  I think the best Tyauan Vickers is yet to come,” he said.

          There were three Wooster scores, but Bradley says their defense continues to improve.  “We say all of the time.  To be honest we had a couple of shutouts earlier this year and those shutouts were great, some great defense, they showed up big in crucial points in those games, but last week they played a pretty darn good football game.  When you consider some calls that were made and our offense had a couple of turnovers that put our defense in some adverse situations,” he said.

          The Tygers are at Lexington (1-7,0-5) with a chance to wrap up no less than a share of the “OCC” title.  They lead Ashland by a game right now.  Bradley says they need to contain Lexington quarterback Trent Richwine.  “I understand that we have to stop the quarterback.  We are going to gear ourselves up to do just that.  We are going to try and do the best we can in containing him and just eliminate the big plays, tackle well, and I think we will stand a chance of being successful,” he said.

 

Published 10/25/13

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“OCC” Leaders at Wooster

 

          Mansfield Senior continues its push toward an unbeaten regular season and an undisputed Ohio Cardinal Conference title on Friday night as they travel to Wooster to face the Generals.

          Last week, the Tygers (7-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, got it’s biggest scare of the season when West Holmes took them deep into the fourth quarter before losing (23-17) to the Tygers.  Coach Chioke Bradley says their defense made the big stops in the critical situations.  “I think we did a good job of bending a little bit, but not breaking and coming up with stops when we absolutely needed it,” he said.

          West Holmes rushed for 271 yards against a Mansfield Senior defense that had pitched two shutouts in “OCC” play.  Bradley says he knew it was going to be a tough, so he wasn’t surprised.  “Especially against a good football program and a good football team.  Coach Maltrich has done a good job since he has taken over that program.  He has those guys playing unbelievable football.  We knew it was going to be a phenomenal football game, an exciting football game, it always is between the two of us.  There haven’t been any blowouts when we have played each other.  I always knew it wasn’t going to be last time either,” said Bradley.

          This week the Tygers are at Wooster (2-5,2-3) in a game between the two most athletic teams in the conference.  Bradley says the Generals have players all over the field.  “I’ll tell you one thing they are much better than their record shows.  You see their record you say they are 2-5 they aren’t very good they are sadly mistaken.  They have a lot of talent on that football team and they do a lot of things well.  When you watch them on film and see the games they lost and they are a play or two away from winning those games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are not under estimating those guys.  They have a couple of big time receivers.  They have a big quarterback, who runs the ball well.  He has a huge arm and can throw it.  They have a running back that is lightning fast.  Their offensive line is enormous.  For us we just want to go in to a hostile environment and execute our game plan and do the best we can.”

          West Holmes was a team that relied heavily on the run, but Bradley says Wooster can throw too and that will stretch their defense on Friday night.  “They have a balanced attack to themselves where they can run or throw.  Like I said they have a huge line and they have a slippery running back.  He is quick, he is downhill.  They have a couple of receivers out there and the quarterback has a strong enough arm to get it to them.  They have a little momentum going right now.  Their last game they won convincingly.  They made some big plays.  For us we have to go out and contain the big plays that they have had,” said Bradley.

 

Published 10/18/13

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Stopping the Run a Key For Mansfield Senior

 

          There are still four weeks of the regular season left, but this might be the best Mansfield Senior football team in a long time, maybe longer than most of us have been alive.

          The Tygers (6-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, took a 17-0 halftime lead and went on to down Ashland (30-14) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play last week.  Those were the first points Senior High had given up in conference play this year.

          Coach Chioke Bradley says that defense is really in good form.  “Our defensive guys have started to a do a great job coming out executing our game plan and being physical.  I think the difference between our defense this year and in the past is the guys we have out there right now just refuse to lose and they play with an unbelievable amount of toughness,” he said.

          Early in the season the Tygers were counting on the passing of quarterback Jalen Reece pretty heavily.  He has 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.  But, lately they have been getting a lot of yards on the ground from Tyquan Vickers, he has 920 for year.  Bradley says he owes a lot of that to his offensive line.  “That’s a great testament to our offensive line being able to jell together.  Six games of those guys playing together they are starting to jell and understand that their assignments.  The little water bug that is running behind them is running pretty good,” he said.

          On Friday night, Mansfield Senior plays host to second place West Holmes (5-1,2-1) in “OCC” play at Arlin Field.  Holmes is wing-t power running team and Bradley says they aren’t going to change their approach.  “They are a machine.  I think they are averaging 300 or 300 yards rushing per game.  They do a pretty good job of running the football.  They have two big time running backs back there with the Perone kid and the Ogi kid.  The also have a good system.  Those guys are executing their system well.  It is not a down year for them.  They just throw guys in and keep going,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          There is no question Mansfield Senior will have a speed advantage, but Bradley says they have to be ready for the Knights physical nature.  “Whenever you play a Maltrich team you have to be physical and you have to be tough at the point of attack.  That is where the game is going to be won, right up front on the offensive and defensive line.  It is definitely going to be a physical football game.  We have to match their physical play with our own physical play and we will see how it falls out,’ said Bradley.

 

Published 10/11/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior to Mix it up With Ashland

 

          After Friday night there will be an outright leader in the Ohio Cardinal Conference as co-leaders Mansfield Senior and Ashland face off at Community Stadium in Ashland.

          The Tygers (5-0,2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, thumped Orrville (45-0) in a conference game at Arlin Field.  Coach Chioke Bradley says they were both physical and solid in following the game plan.  “I thought our kids came out and did a great job of maintaining our focus and executing the game plan that myself and my staff put together for them.  I also think they did a good job of coming out and coming physical.  To me that is huge in that aspect of playing good Tyger football,” he said.

          So far this year it has been a great season for the Tygers with lofty rankings and so forth.  However, Bradley says they have done a good job of focusing on the task at hand.  “I think the kids approach every day with the right mental focus where we don’t look past any day.  We have a motto around here where we win today.  When Monday comes around we have to win Monday.  When Tuesday comes we have to win Tuesday.  Wednesday, Thursday and so forth and so on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I never see the kids get too high or too low from day to day.  I think they keep and even keel and they understand that we have to win today.  I always tell our kids all of the time that championships are won every day.  We have to win a championship on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then you play the game on Friday.”

          Ashland lost their first two games, but they have won their last three, including league games over Wooster (38-17) and last week (48-21) over West Holmes, who like the Tygers were unbeaten going into the game.  Bradley says the Arrows have a solid program that produces winners.  “Ashland is notorious for playing some great football.  They have a phenomenal coach over there and a great staff over there.  They always keep excellent athletes.  They do a great job of doing what coach Valentine asked them to do.  Their system is flawless.  It is tough to simulate in practice and it is tough to do a lot of things that we normally like to do with our offensive attack.  They have some big guys that are physical and can run around a little bit.  They are kind of similar to us in a lot of aspects,” said Bradley.

          Against West Holmes, Ashland quarterback Nick Zurcher threw three touchdown passes, but he also ran for 105 yards and a score.  Bradley says he is a double threat.  “He is definitely a threat.  We are going to make sure we do our best to respect and honor his running ability.  That is one thing that stands out to me of him is he is a phenomenal runner.  To be able to run and throw like that is a big asset to them,” he said.

          With first place up for grads Bradley says they know what’s on the line.  “We are going to approach this one, we have talked all week about this being big championship week.  We understand what is at stake.  We understand that win, lose or draw we have to leave it all out there this Friday.  We are a worthy opponent and they are chasing the same thing that we are chasing regardless what our records may be we are all in the same hunt,” said Bradley.

 

Published 10/4/13

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Mansfield Senior Battles Orrville

 

          Mansfield Senior has seemed to have gotten better each week and they were already pretty good to start with.  Their biggest challenge of the season comes Friday night at Arlin Field when they host Orrville, who is also unbeaten on the season.

          Last week, the Tygers (4-0,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, hammered Clear Fork (40-0) in their Ohio Cardinal Conference opener. 

          Coach Chioke Bradley says everything went to plan on both sides of the ball.  “I think our kids came out and stuck to the game plan.  They executed everything that we had worked on in practice throughout the week.  Our playmakers did a good job making plays when we got them the football,” he said.

          The Tygers offense averages more than 40 points per game, but it is defense that is where they have found their most improvement.  Bradley says last week was their best effort.  “We always knew the defense was going to be strong.  We returned a lot of guys on that side of the ball who were playing varsity when they were sophomores and we were 3-7.  We kind of knew if we could cut our teeth a little bit in a year or two we would be pretty good on that side of the football and we are starting to see some of that success,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          Orrville (4-0,1-0) downed Lexington last week (16-9) in their first conference game.  They had beaten Cleveland John Marshall (42-6), Wooster Triway (22-17) and Canal Fulton Northwest (28-22) in their non-conference games.  Bradley says the Red Riders are physical and want to run the ball.  “They are a big, tough physical football team. They are traditionally rich in football and players.  They do a great job in what they do, which is running the football.  They are tough and physical up front.  They have a great coach in coach Davault and he does a great job of leading those kids and getting those kids to play hard for him,” said Bradley.

          It has been the Orrville defense that has been the reason for their success.  Bradley calls them opportunistic.  “They get after it.  They have a lot of the same guys that make their offense do what they do.  It is the same guys that play on the defensive side of the ball.  They apply a lot of pressure to your front with their front guys.  They play off of you in the secondary and they wait for you to make a mistake.  They are going to apply a lot of pressure to our quarterback and hope he makes mistakes so they can capitalize on them,” he said.

 

Published 9/27/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Wants to Get Their Athletes in Space

 

          Last year Mansfield Senior shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference football title with Madison and West Holmes, but this year they want it to themselves.  The first of the seven “OCC” games is Friday night at Arlin Field against Clear Fork.

          The Tygers (3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Marion Harding (45-16) last week.  It was a scoreless tie after the first quarter, but then offensive coordinator Jeff Soliday says they put it together.  “The second quarter we got things going.  We scored 24 points in that quarter and we were able to score in the second half pretty well.  We started out slow against Big Walnut and then were able to get things going.  We were able to get moving and do what we do well.  We were able to get the ball to all of the playmakers we have on offense.  The defense played well and we able to hold their running back L.J. Scott to hardly any yards the first half,” said Soliday.

          Mansfield Senior is as explosive as any team in North Central Ohio and Soliday says they really try to get in a rhythm when they have the ball in their hands.  “That is what we try to tell them in practice.  One good play catches on to another good play and catches on to another good play and not to dwell on the bad plays that we have every now and then.  That is why we went to the no huddle in the first place to get out of people dwelling on what just happened on that play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We have been able to get up to the line and forget about that previous play and move on to the next one.  It is contagious once it starts happening for us.  In our offense once people start making plays and Jalen (Reece) starts distributing the ball and running the ball and throwing the ball it really helps us get going into a good rhythm.”

          Clear Fork (2-1) has won seven on the last eight games against Mansfield Senior, however, the Tygers won (35-15) last year at the Corral.  Soliday says Clear Fork has some tough kids.  “They have some pretty decent athletes with the Winand kid and the Chrastina kid at quarterback and Silas Finley.  They can all run pretty well.  They are tough hard nosed kids from down there in the valley and they always give us a good game.  Last year was the first time we beat them since they joined the “OCC.”  That was a great accomplishment for us and we just have to build on that and move forward.  They have a good team and will give us a good fight,” said Soliday.

          He says they want to be able to get their athletes in space.  “We have athletes inside and outside.  I think we can run the ball and throw the ball.  It is up to those guys once they get the ball in their hands to make somebody miss.  We always tell them to make at least the first person miss and then try to get some yards after that.  Make them tackle you more than one on one and make them gang tackle you,” he said.

 

Published 9/20/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Has to Clean it Up

 

          A lot of other people, including the coaches voting in our coach’s poll, think pretty highly of Mansfield Senior, but the Tygers think they need to get a whole lot better.

          After leading by as many as five scores, the Tygers outscored Lima Senior (59-42) on week two.  Coach Chioke Bradley thought his players lost their focus when they got a big lead and they can’t let that happen.  “We showed a lack of discipline and a lack of execution when it came to came down to finishing a team off.  We had them down early, big, and we kind of lost focus.  It was just disheartening for me to see our kids let the opposing team get back into the game like they did,” said Bradley.

          He says they have already addressed the situation with the players and expect that it will not happen again.  “We told out kids after the game Friday night that this something that we need to get fixed.  We had 17 or 18 penalties and something like that,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They killed drives.  We told them later on down the road we are going to be in a dogfight with a good football team and if you aren’t disciplined and know how to execute they are going to lose a football game that way.”

          Last week, Senior High amassed more than 400 yards of total offense, with more than 300 yards passing in the first of the game, and Bradley says they have some kids, when focused, can do a lot of good things with the ball.  “There is a lot of talent on that side of the football.  We always knew that once we figured it out on the offensive side of the ball and keep the ball off the ground they can special,” he said.

          Last season, Mansfield Senior (2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade.  Bradley says they have some pretty lofty goals this year.  “We have 16 seniors on this team and those guys are hungry and they are out to make statements week in and week out.  They are not going to allow this football team to do anything less than get better each week.  We have to address the mental lapses,” said Bradley.

          On Friday night, the Tygers visit Marion Harding (1-1) in non-conference play.  Bradley says they need to be able to stop the run to slow down the Presidents.  “I know they have a pretty good running back over there in the Scott kid.  I think he is a Louisville commit.  They have a couple of other kids that can run and can do some special things with the football.  It’s a rival game for us and that is the way we are going to treat it,” said Bradley.

 

Published 9/13/13

© Swankonsports.com   

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior to Play Improved Lima Senior

 

          Talent is never a question at Mansfield Senior, but this year the Tygers have players that understand the game and have a high football I.Q. and that will make them even better.

          They travel to Lima Senior, a team that has struggled to find success on the gridiron in recent years on Friday night.   

          Last week, the Tygers railed by scoring 22 points in the third quarter and beat Sunbury Big Walnut (28-7) in their opener at Arlin Field.  Offensive coordinator Jeff Soliday says they just had better execution in the second half.  “Execution of the offense was the difference.  The defense did their job.  They played great in first half and the played great in the second half.   Offensively we just got out a little bit slow.  They stopped us on the inch line down there. We just didn’t execute like we should have and that was the difference between the first half and the second half.  We went in at halftime and just explained to them if we execute our game plan and execute our jobs offensively we was going to fine,” said Soliday.

          Tyger quarterback Jalen Reese, who threw for 195 yards last week, has a number of players he can get the ball too and Soliday says he does an excellent job of reading defenses.  “Anyone of those guys can score at any time.  We have five or six receivers that we can stick in.  Asante Wilder can take a catch and turn into big gains.  Jalen is always a field general.  He is like a coach on the field.  He is a very smart kid.  He directs things.  Sometimes he even calls his own stuff out there on the field.  I give him the opportunity to do that sometimes.  He sees something that he thinks is there I let him go with it.  He is the smartest kid with have on the team I think, football wise.  It’s all about execution for us,” said Soliday.

          Right now, Mansfield Senior is rotating some players at the running back position and Soliday says it will likely stay that way for a while.  “Malon (Samuel) came out as the starter.  He earned it.  He played well through the summer, two-a-days and scrimmages.  But, he plays both ways.  Last year we had a big luxury with Keevon Taylor back there.  He was only a one way guy and that proved to be very big for us running the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “With Malon playing defense as well I think running back by committee is the way we are going to go right now unless somebody can step up and be that go to running back we can have and play offense all of time.  I don’t see that happening right now.  We have two or three running backs we can stick in there at any time and do well for us.”

          Lima Senior (0-1) lost their opener (20-14) to Beechwood, Kentucky last Thursday on the road.  However, Soliday says they have some big time athletes that are capable of making plays.  “They have good athletes, that’s for sure.  Their quarterback can sling it a little bit.  They have some good wide outs and a good speed back at tailback that can run the ball.  Defensively they play man and they play man free.  That will definitely be a challenge for us for our receivers to catch balls and make plays in those coverages.  They are very much an improved team from last year.  They are definitely not a 0-10 team this year.  On any given play they have the athletes to make tackles and play our type of ball and they can hurt us a little bit,” said Soliday.

 

Published 9/6/13

© Swankonsports.com       

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Primed to Go

 

          Mansfield Senior has been chosen by many, including me, to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference football title this year.

          The Tygers have talent back on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Jalen Reece.

          Coach Chioke Bradley says they certainly have great potential.  “If all of our guys come out and play 48 minutes every week and be physical and execute on offense and take care of the football we should be able to do some pretty special things,” he said.

          Bradley says Reece will have a lot of guys to get the ball too.  “We have some guys over here that can do some good things with the ball in their hands and we have a pretty good quarterback,” he said.

          With their leading rusher form a year ago lost to graduation, Bradley says they really haven’t settled on a starter at the position this year.  “We are kind of running back by committee this year.  We were at this point last year where we were trying to find a running back and Keevon Taylor kind of emerged as that guy three or four games into the season.  Right now we have three guys that are playing it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We will kind of see how it goes.  All three of those guys are worthy.  They are tough guys.  They are fast and skilled.  We just have to give all three of them a good shot and then settle into one or two of those guys.”

          With the explosiveness they have on offense, Bradley believes they will be best on defense, led by highly recruited defensive back Chekiah Washington.  “Defensively is where I think we should be where we are our strongest barring any injuries.  We return a lot of guys over there.  We have two all-sate players on that side of the ball.  Then we have a kid on the back end that has several division one offers.  We are just very athletic on that side of the ball.  I think if we can play physical and be tough week in and week out and just win the game in the trenches with our front seven and force teams to throw the football we should have success defensively,” said Bradley.

          It is a different opener for the Tygers this year.  Gone is Galion and they are replaced by traditional power Sunbury Big Walnut.  Bradley says they will be a physical test on the football field.  “They are a big time football program.  I believe they won the state in ’07.  They are a polished program.  They are proven winners year in and year out.  They are very disciplined.  They don’t make mistakes and they capitalize on your mistakes.  It is going to be a physical football game and it should be very exciting,” he said.

 

Published 8/30/13

© Swankonsports.com    

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Making a Move

 

          After a rough start to the season, Mansfield Senior is starting to play some pretty good baseball and the Tygers own a two-game winning streak.

          The Tygers (3-6) started the season by losing six of their first seven games, three of those were to Lexington and Ontario, #1 in the large and small school divisions of the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll.  First year coach Ron Steward says it was kind of like a baptism under fire.  “We had a tough part of our schedule at the beginning of the season.  We were playing a lot of young kids and now they are starting to come around a little bit,” he said.

          With snow, rain, and cold weather during the preseason and Steward says that didn’t help when it came to the start of the year.  “We struggled a little bit defensively because we really hadn’t gotten on the field.  We got on the football field a little bit, but that’s turf.  We actually didn’t get on the baseball field until the day of our first game,” he said.

          The Tygers beat Ashland, the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champ, (3-2) in a game played on Wednesday.  That was after losing a suspended game (8-4) to the Arrows.  Steward says they almost won it too.  “(Wednesday) we finished a suspended game against Ashland.  We were wining 4-3 going into the seventh inning and gave up five runs to lose.  I was really worried about coming back and starting the next game, but the youngsters really came through and didn’t let it affect them.  They went out and played a really, really solid game,” said Steward.

          Mansfield Senior beat Mansfield Christian (4-3) in eight innings on Thursday night.  Steward believes the experience they gained against Ashland helped them against the Flames.  “We gave up two (Thursday) night in the seventh to go into extra innings.  It was the same thing we had done the night before and our kids had been there a little bit, so they didn’t seem too phased.  I changed pitchers and they got us out of the inning.  They came in and scored a run in the eighth for the win.  (Wednesday’s) games really helped us a lot (Thursday),” he said.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Trying to Make Progress

 

          Almost everything about the Mansfield Senior baseball team is new this year.  The Tygers new coach feels the mix could have them being competitive in an Ohio Cardinal Conference that features a team that made the state semis and another the regional finals.

          With a team searching for consistent success not being out on the diamond is a concern.  Coach Roy Steward says the weather has mixed up their plans again this week.  “We were supposed to have a scrimmage (Tuesday) and (Wednesday) and that doesn’t look like that is going to happen and a game Saturday,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior is scheduled to host Ontario on Saturday at Arlin Field and then Willard on Monday.  Those are followed by their “OCC” openers against Lexington.

          You can do a lot of fundamental things inside a gym, but Steward says one thing you can’t do is field a high fly ball.  “It’s hard for the outfielders to get work.  There is only so much you can do in the gym.  We got out in the parking lot a couple of times when it was tolerable,” said Stewart. 

          There is no argument that hitting is different when you get outside.  Stewart says they are trying to make the transition as easy as they can.  “I like to do a lot of live batting practice then I do off the machine.  Still you are sitting in a cage and it’s a lot different feeling then being outside,” he said.

          Frankly, it has been a number of years since Mansfield Senior has been competitive in their league in baseball.  Stewart is not predicting an “OCC” title, but he believes they have the chance to be competitive.  “From what I know and what I have seen the last couple of years and what I’ve heard it looks like West Holmes is going to be pretty strong.  Ashland is usually pretty strong.  After that I don’t know a whole lot about Wooster or Orrville.  I think we should be able to hold our own this year,” Stewart told Swankonsports.com.  

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior With Numbers

 

          Mansfield Senior has its third baseball coach in as many years as Roy Steward takes command of the Tygers baseball program.

          This will be Steward’s first varsity coaching assignment, but a plus for him and the program is his familiarity with the players at Mansfield Senior from a young age.  “I have not been involved in the program at Mansfield Senior, but I have been involved in the little league here in Mansfield for about 13 years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday. “I have been the president of the Southwest Little League for the last three years now.  I am familiar with all of the kids that have gone through our program and went on to Mansfield Senior, so I was familiar with a lot of the staff at Senior High.  I guess that was kind of my connection.”

          Some strides were made last year at Mansfield Senior including its first baseball tournament win in many years.  Steward says this year they have a lot of kids out, which has not been the norm over the last 15 years, and they have shown a strong work ethic.  “We haven’t been outside very much, but so far in the gym I am seeing a lot of depth.  I have about 28 kids.  We are going to have a good solid JV team I believe.  They work hard.  We have a lot of team speed.  I have got a lot of arms, maybe not necessarily a lot of experienced arms, but I do have a lot of arms,” said Steward.

          Mansfield Senior’s first game of the year is scheduled for Arlin Field against Ontario on March 30.  They open Ohio Cardinal Conference play against Lexington the next week.  Steward hopes the weather breaks before then.  “What concerns me the most is I’m sitting here and it’s snowing outside.  I haven’t been outside very much to practice.  I have a couple of kids that played basketball so they got there kind of late.  Everybody else is going to behind also.  Hopefully it will equal itself out along the way,” he said.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Seeking Revenge

 

          It has been 364 days since Mansfield Senior and Norwalk played a game where they kept score and determined a winner and a loser.

          Norwalk won that game (78-66) on March 8, 2012 and those are two numbers that are burned into the brains of many of the Tygers players.  They hope to do something about it on Thursday night when they face the Truckers in the division one super sectional final at Galion High School.

          Last Friday, playing without second leading scorer and leading rebounder Donovon Benson, Mansfield Senior (20-3), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll, beat “OCC” rival Ashland (47-40) to advance to this round.  Coach J.T. Reece says they got some big games from some unexpected sources.  “When you get down to this time of year and you are a man down and that guy for you does so much you expect people to step up and that is exactly what happened,” said Reece.

          Benson did not play due to an unspecified leg injury against Ashland, but Reece says he will be available for playing time against the Truckers.  “We expect to be at full strength come Thursday,” he said.

          Norwalk (24-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com poll, has not lost game since February of 2011.  A loss to Toledo Whitmer in the regional semi-final last year was later vacated.  Reese says Norwalk has great confidence in their abilities.  “There are several good things about Norwalk.  The biggest being they are well coached.  They have won a lot of games and they believe in one another.  I think those two things coupled with the fact that flat out they are good makes for a good team,” said Reece.

          What about revenge against the Truckers.  Reece admits that does exist amount the Tygers players.  “Kids are kids and kids do remember.  Our kids do remember the feeling in Willard after the loss last year.  They are eager and they deserve a game like this, of this magnitude, and they will be ready,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior has built its reputation on playing fast and getting all over the offensive glass.  Reece says the are not going to go away from what is there strength just because the Truckers are also a very god and quick team at almost every position.  “We need to speed the game up and get these guys uncomfortable.  We need to rebound the ball and finish every opportunity we can,” said Reece.  

 

 
 

Tygers not Satisfied

 

          Mansfield Senior has amassed a solid body of work so far this season including 17 wins and Ohio Cardinal Conference title, but there are still a number of things to be checked off when it comes to their season goals.

          A big win (85-60) over Orrville last week pushed the Tygers record to 17-3 for the year and 13-0 in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Coach J.T. Reece says they didn’t back down just because they already had the “OCC” title in hand.  “What we do over here is we have a one gear engine.  We only have an on button.  We got a lot of kids in the Orrville game and once we press the pedal we try to stay on it.  A lot of those kids are deserving of minutes and we are trying to find more playable players.  When the tournament comes around you want to have a wrinkle in some of the things you do and for us to do that we need more players,” said Reece.

          The coach and his staff are still looking to extend the Tygers bench as they head into the tournament.  “They have to gain our trust, me and the coaching staff.  It is not a big gap between our first five and our second five.  The competition is fierce in our practice because playing time is at a premium and all of our guys know that.  All week we have fierce battles and that is what helps out in our game,” he said.

          With the fact that players can earn playing time and there are a lot of them with skill it leads to good team chemistry with the Tygers, according to Reece.  “There is not a big gap between our first and second unit.  When you get tired, which you will with the way we like to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Once you get tied you are comfortable with the guy coming in because in any given night he could be the guy in front of you.  With that comes our team chemistry.  Everybody on our team loves each other.  When you have that close competition and that close skill level that helps.”

          In their final “OCC” game of the campaign, Mansfield Senior, #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, travels to Wooster (13-8,8-5), a team they beat (70-53) without the services of Keon Johnson back in January.  Reece says Wooster is the biggest team they play in the conference.  “Wooster is a very good team, especially when they are at home.  They have some things that you can’t teach.  They are pretty big up front.  They have a couple of subs that are also long.  This is a champion game and it’s important to them and they are also gearing up for the tournament,” he said.

          The Tygers have good, but not overwhelming size, and Reece says they try to defend teams like Wooster with their speed and quickness.  “We have faired pretty well.  I think our speed helps to negate some of the height some teams may have on us.  At the same time we aren’t the smallest team either.  We also have some length, which helps.  We do it with speed and pressure,” he said.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Needs 32 Minutes

 

          If Mansfield Senior can put together some consistent play they could find themselves in the district tournament again.

          Consistency has been an issue, but it looks like the Lady Tygers may have found their stride just in time.  They won their last game in convincing fashion over Lexington (63-29) last Thursday.  They lost in overtime to traditional power Mansfield St. Peter’s (65-60) last Tuesday. 

          Coach Todd Krill feels they have played well even in some games they have lost recently.  “We have been talking to the girls that even in losses are we playing better?  I think we are playing better.  We definitely want to make sure that we are peaking going into the tournament.  We are playing hard and that’s a key right now and we just have to keep on doing that,” he said.

          Most coaches says it, but Krill coached teams have done it over the years, and that is play good defense.  He says they must continue to get better at that.  “We try to keep on pushing on these girls to make sure we are playing strong defense.  I think defense is a lot better than it was at the beginning of the season.  Even in the middle of the season we put some pretty good lockdowns on some teams that were pretty good.  We have to understand that it has to be consistent all of the time for four quarters playing defense,” said Krill.

          On Tuesday night, Mansfield Senior (11-11) plays Sandusky (3-17) in the division one sectional semi-finals at Bucyrus High School.  The Lady Tygers beat Sandusky (65-51) back in December.  However, Krill says the Lady Streaks are vastly improved since they played them.  “They are a team that is athletic, but young.  I was up and scouted them about a week ago.  They are improving rapidly,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Those are the teams that give you a scare because you only need one good night to shoot the ball well and play good defense and you could have something happen with your team.  Our girls have to understand that come tournament time that there is not a next game that you play if you lose.  You have to win to be able to move on.”

          This is a game where Mansfield Senior wants to start fast.  Krill says they don’t want to give Sandusky any confidence.  “If we let then hang around, and that kind of happened up at Sandusky this year.  We had like a 16 point lead and we didn’t play defense very well and they brought it back down to eight.  I think we ended up winning by 12.  That is the type of team that if you give them confidence with their athletic ability and desire to play a little bit harder they could be a problem,” said Krill. 

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Still Looking For Improvement

 

Mansfield Senior has already claimed the outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title for this season, but they still have three regular season games to playing, including this Friday against an improving Orrville team.

          Last Friday, the Tygers beat West Holmes (80-76) in what was their closest conference game of the year.  Coach J.T. Reece says he knew it was going to be a tough game against the Knights.  “West Holmes is a great team.  They will make some noise in the tournament.  They have a player like Brady Arnold, which is tough.  They are well coached.  It wasn’t a surprise that were in a tough battle,” he said.

          In a close game you have to make plays at the end and Reece says they were able to do that against West Holmes.  “We were at home so the expectations are a lot different.  You expect to defend your court.  The guys have a little bit more confidence at home then they do on the road.  Our kids did make several plays to pull out the victory out,” he said.

          On Saturday night, Mansfield Senior traveled to Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary and beat the Irish (72-64) in a battle against one of the top programs in the state.  Reece knows it was a good win.  “It was a good game on a statewide scale.  It was good for our kids to go up there in that type of environment and perform the way they did.  We rebounded well, we played solid defense and made a couple of shots and went up there and got the victory over state perennial power,” Reece told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

          The Tygers are a very good team, obviously, but Reece says there is still room for improvement.  “I think we can rebound a little bit better.  I also think we could screen a little bit better.  I am still trying come away with a couple more playable guys.  Other than that we will keep being meticulous over what we already have implemented,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (16-3,12-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, is at home on Friday night for the Orrville Red Riders (5-14,2-10), who have won their last three games.  Reece expects a good game.  “Orrville is another tough gritty team that is well coached.  They will come over here and we will strap it up.  It will be a dogfight.  I think what is going on is they are playing better because they have found their selves a little bit as far as what the coach says.  Friday night they will come over and we will see what happens,” said Reece.

          Is this a team that is just going to coast into the postseason?  Reece says no.  “No I’m not concerned about it simply because we still have kids that are thirsty for playing time.  That makes it a lot easier for us.  That makes the practices a lot more intense.  I think if we stay on that angle and take that route our kids will still be hungry by the time tournament comes around,” he said.  

 

 
 

It’s Title Time For Mansfield Senior

 

          The first goal of any basketball team in Ohio is to win its conference title.  Most of them fail, but Mansfield Senior usually doesn’t.

          In 13 of the last 16 years the Tygers have gotten at least a share of the conference title.  They already have that.  Now they want it outright and can get it with a win on Friday night at home against West Holmes.

          A pair of conference wins last week over Ashland (80-60) and Lexington (79-53) locked up a share for the Tygers.  Coach J.T. Reece says they were solid wins.  “They were both home games so they were expected wins.  Both Ashland and Lexington are solid.  Ashland is also in our sectional draw. Lexington is playing well.  They beat West Holmes in overtime the night we beat them.  They came into our place and gave a good effort,” he said.

          Tough man to man defense by the Tygers held Lexington’s Mason Willeke to just 12 points, he had been averaging over 20 in his last five games.  Reece says they have good individual defenders.  “That is what we preach every day.  A lot of our practices are spent on defense and defensive concepts and rotations.  In regards to Willeke he is a great player in our conference.  Our kids take it personal when we play against him and against Lexington.  C.J. Simmons does a good job along with Chek Washington and Mario Davidson, they do a good job together on Willeke,” said Reece.

          Mansfield Senior (14-3,11-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the leage school division, beat West Holmes (81-49) in January in a game that the Knights (13-5,8-3) leading scorer Brady Arnold didn’t play due to an ankle injury.  Reece says he expects the Knights to come in with all guns blazing.  “Brady Arnold is another great player in our conference.  Last time we played them he wasn’t available.  We were at their place and it was a tough game.  The score might not indicate it, but it was a tough game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We expect them to come to our place with Brady ready to go.  It will be another tough home game for us.   It’s a championship game in the conference and we will treat it as such.”

          On Saturday night, the Tygers travel north to play Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary and Reece knows that will be good preparation for what’s ahead.  “We have two games coning up this weekend and all of them are gearing up for finishing off the conference and preparing for the tournament,” he said.

          With losses to Dayton Dunbar and Columbus Northland this year Reece says they would like to prove something.  “Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary is a perennial powerhouse in this state.  They are a nationally known program with some of the kids they have had in the program before.  We have to take care of business first on Friday and then we will rinse and repeat and come back on Saturday and ride up the road and take a shot at it,” said Reece.   

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Wants to Maintain

 

          With two wins this weekend Mansfield Senior will really be knocking on the door for an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title, but it won’t be easy as they will be playing two of the hotter teams in the area.

          Last Saturday, the Tygers played the state’s number one team in the AP poll in division one in the Columbus Northland Vikings at a tournament at Capital University.  They led at halftime, but ended up losing (59-52) to the Vikings.  Coach J.T. Reece was pleased with the effort that he saw in the game.  “We played with a passion.  We played with a lot of effort and still came up a little bit short.  Our kids are eager to get back in that type of game, back in that type of atmosphere.  Moral victory I don’t really put too much into that, but we played hard,” he said.

          On Friday night, the Tygers (12-3,9-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the large school division,  play at Pete Henry Gym against Ashland (10-5,6-4), winners of four in a row, in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.  Reece says the Arrows are good shooters and they run the floor well.  “They pose some problems for us.  First of all they are well coached.  They believe in the system that they run.  They have pretty good shooters and they have a couple of veterans with the Isaac White kid and the Delaney kid.  They will be formable opponents, it will be a tough one,” he said.

          In their first meeting Mansfield Senior pulled away in the fourth quarter and won (55-45) at Arrow Arena.  Reece says they need to play good transition defense and hit the glass.  “They get up and down the floor real well.  They run a pretty decent side line break.  You have to get back on defense and slow the ball down a little bit and make sure you rebound,” he said.

          Lexington (11-5,6-3), #4 in our poll, is at Pete Henry on Saturday night.  The first time they played the Tygers won (53-41) at Lexington without Keon Johnson, who was injured the night before against Orrville.  Reece thinks it will be different this time.  “Keon will be back this weekend so we will look a little different, a little faster.  Last time we played Lexington it was a good game.  They are really formable opponents in their own house.  The situation is a little different, we are at home now.  We will try to impose our will defensively and play at a high rate of speed,” said Reece.

          Of their three losses, two have been on the road.  Reece says the like to play at home, but can play their game on the road too.  “I would have to say we play about the same.  On the road I think we are a little bit more focused at first coming out as to when we are at home.  When we are at home we do get into the game a little bit later, but we take the good with the bad when it comes to home and the road,” said Reece.   

 

 
 

Tygers Focused on Clear Fork

 

          Ashland gave Mansfield Senior a little helping hand on Tuesday night and now the Tygers need to take advantage of it.

          The Arrows upset West Holmes (64-59) on Tuesday night to hand the Tygers a two game lead in the loss column in the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings.

          Mansfield Senior (11-2,8-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, won two “OCC” games last weekend to keep their record clean in the conference.

          They beat the red hot Wooster Generals, who had beaten Lexington by 30 the week before, (70-53) at Pete Henry Gym.  Coach J.T. Reece says they aren’t going to permit other teams to come to their place and win.  “Wooster is a pretty good team.  They were long and athletic.  My team came in pretty focused and took care of our home court and that’s what we preached no matter who comes in to your gym you have to take care of your own and that’s what we did against a very good Wooster team,” said Reece.

          Then on Saturday night, they traveled across town by bus and beat the Madison Rams (66-55) for the second time this season.  Reece says it was tougher this time.  “We went over to Madison Saturday and played a much improved Madison team.  Coach Mergel has those guys playing well over there, playing much better.  They are young and coming along.  We went over there and took care of business also,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior played both of those games without its leading scorer and orchestrater Keon Johnson, out with an injured ankle.

          It’s a game at Pete Henry again Friday night as the Tygers host the Clear Fork Colts (7-7,3-5), who they beat (68-34) on December 14 in the valley.  Reece says they will protect the home floor.  “If you plan on winning the title in our conference you have to win at home.  Nothing is a given on the road and to tell you the truth nothing is a given at home.  You like the odds playing at home.  That is the gym you practice in.  That’s the gym you shoot in the most.  That’s what we did last Friday and that’s what we want to do this Friday,” said Reece.

          Clear Fork has one of the leading scorers in the area in junior Ridge Winand.  Reece says all of the Colts guards and good.   “They are pretty guard oriented with Ridge and the Corbin kid, both lefthanders.  They are pretty good athletically also.  They are well coached.  They play hard for Bechtel down there.  We just want to bring them in on Friday and take care of business,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior plays state ranked Columbus Northland on Saturday, but Reece says they are not looking past the Colts.  “We don’t do those things over here.  We prepare all week for the Friday night game.  Friday night is our conference game against Clear Fork and that’s what we will prepare for all week.  Will we be over confident?  No.  Will be confident?  Sure we will,” Reece said.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Faces Another Double Weekend

 

          Mansfield Senior stands at the top of the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings and if they intend to stay there they likely will have to win two “OCC” games this weekend.

          They will play at home against Wooster on Friday night then travel to cross town rival Mansfield Madison on Saturday night.

          Last weekend, the Tygers (9-2,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Orrville (75-61) and Lexington (53-41) in order to maintain the lead.  Coach J.T. Reece says they faced some adversity and were successful.  “There was no doubt about it, it was a tough, tough weekend, two tough games.  We went into Orrville and they played tough.  They gave us their best punch.  We ended up pulling a victory out over there.  We came out of with our leading scorer, our star injured.  Then we head into Lexington, a tough environment to play, another so called rival.  We go in there and take care of business and now we are at home against a tough Wooster team,” said Reece.

          Keon Johnson, an all-state guard and Winthrup recruit, is going to be sidelined this weekend with a bad ankle.  Reece says they are not taking any chances.  “His ankle is still a little sore.  He asked me (Thursday) at practice that he could come back.  We are going to keep him out like I told you before if we make any mistake it will be keeping him out too long,” he said.

          Wooster has moved into the third spot in the “OCC” standings after a big win over Lexington (81-51) last week.  Reece says the Generals can do a lot of things.  “First things first they did not surprise me, not one bit.  First of all they are well coached.  Second of all they have some athleticism.  They are big, so they are no surprise to me.  They always play us tough and I expect it be just such come (Friday),” he told Swankonsports.com.  In order to combat that height, Reece says they are going to stop Wooster from getting the ball in the post.  “You really have to limit them the ball.  The way we do that is we do that with ball pressure, extreme ball pressure.  We try to make these guys start their offense away from the basket,” he said.

          In the first meeting this season between the Tygers and the Madison Rams (1-9,0-6) Senior High won (76-27) handily.  Reece is not worried that the Tygers are getting a target on their backs.  “In my experience here at Mansfield Senior regardless of we are on top o in the middle of the conference everyone is going to give us their best punch and I wouldn’t expect nothing less this weekend,” he said.  

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Rolling

 

          Mansfield Senior now owns first place to themselves in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, but they face two tough games in conference play this week.

          Last Friday, the Tygers (7-2,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, crushed a very good West Holmes team (81-49), handing the Knights their first conference loss of the season.  Coach J.T. Reece says they did the job.  “I’ll tell you in this conference when you can go to another team’s place and win no matter what the score is and it was big for us,” he said.

          West Holmes’ point guard and best player Brady Arnold did not play in the game due to an ankle injury.

          Mansfield Senior outscored West Holmes 31-9 in the fourth quarter of the game.  Reece says they were able to get on a roll and put things away.  “What ended up happening was you don’t really play the score when you are in an opponent’s gym, you play possessions, or at least I do.  What happened is it came down to a couple of possessions that went our way and we continued to play our style and it came through for us,” said Reece.

          Orrville (2-7,1-4) plays host to the Tygers on Friday night in an “OCC” game.  They played perhaps their best game of the year on Tuesday night beating Norwayne (46-42) in a non-conference game.  Reece expects a tough game.  “In a couple games I saw from Orrville, they are a little perimeter oriented, but they have a big guy down low they does some of the things that they are used too.  What will happen is we will do over there to Orrville (Friday), their home floor, they will play well, they will shoot well, so we have a tough game on our hands,” said Reece.

          Orrville has an older gym and the fans seem like they are right on top of you.  Reece says his players enjoy the interaction.  “No doubt about it.  Any away game in our conference is going to be tough.  Our kids kind of like the situation when it comes to the fans.  Hopefully we can go over there and perform like we know we can,” he said.

          On Saturday night, the Tygers take their act to Lexington (8-3,3-1) for another league game.  Reece says he hasn’t looked that far ahead yet.  “I really can’t tell you anything about Lexington right now because I haven’t really looked at them.  They are the second game on the schedule.  For us what normally happens after the Friday night game, no matter what happens, we look at our information.  There are a couple of other coaches that do that, look at the information, and we determine our game plan and go forth from there,” said Reece.  

 

 
 

The Two Best in the “OCC” Square Off

 

           Before the season started Mansfield Senior and West Holmes were predicted to be the best two teams in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and that is exactly how it has worked out so far.

          They play each other in a big game in suburban Millersburg on Friday night. 

          Right now they are tied for first place in the loss column with West Holmes at 4-0 in the conference and Mansfield Senior at 3-0. 

          Mansfield Senior (6-2,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the large school division, rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Ashland (55-45) last week in “OCC” play.  Coach J.T. Reece says they did what they had to do.  “They are a tough opponent, especially at their house.  They are a well coached team that shot the ball pretty decent.  We got off to an okay start and played well enough at the end to pull it out,” he said.  Ashland has been a tough place for the Tygers to play in recent years and Reece says they are happy to come away with the win.  “The last two times we went over to Ashland we lost, so to come out of there with a victory whether it is one or 15 you have to be proud of it,” he said.

          Keon Johnson, a Winthop recruit, is an outstanding point guard for the Tygers, but so is Brady Arnold of West Holmes.  Reece says the West Holmes offense goes through Arnold.  “I think it starts with Brady.  He is one of the best guards we have in our league.  They do have two big guys down low, lefthanders, that are returning lettermen.  They will be another tough opponent at their place,” said Reece.

          West Holmes (6-2,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com poll, is enjoying an excellent season and they are going to challenge of the Tygers for the top spot in the conference.  Reece says they have to be physical and they must be the team that controls the tempo.  “We have to be tough.  Their inside play is pretty good.  The knock you around a little bit, so you have to be tough.  I think we have to shoot the ball pretty decent at their place.  We have to get the tempo and the speed in the way we want to play,” he said.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Wants to Play Their Game

 

          There isn’t anybody, likely, that questions that Mansfield Senior is a very good basketball team, but their coach says they perhaps aren’t as good as they thought they were.

          Last week, the Tygers (5-2,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, lost a pair of non-conference games to defending division two state champion Dayton Dunbar (67-61) and Massillon Perry (72-64, in overtime) as they absorbed their first two losses of the season.

          First year coach J.T. Reece says they perhaps thought they were too good after a great start to the season.  “What I learned from it is maybe we aren’t as tough as we think we are.  What we do is we have to get back to the basics and the basics for us is guarding our man, keeping our man in front, and boxing out and rebounding the dag gone ball,” said Reece.  He said earlier in the season defense and rebounding are were the foundation of the team.

          A key is often the way a team responds to adversity and Reece says they have come back ready to play.  “It has been hit and miss with the weather and holidays, but the couple of practices that we have gotten in they have been focused,” he said.

          On Friday night, the Tygers visit Ashland (5-2,2-1) for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  Reece knows the young Arrows are pretty good and will be a challenge for them.  “They are a great team.  A young team that is well coached.  They play well at home.  They have great ball skills.  They shoot the ball fairly well.  They make you play defense on every possession, so we will be in a dogfight once we get over there,” said Reece.

          Last year, Ashland beat Senior High with a big pace and great outside shooting.  Reece says this year they have to be the ones that dictate things once the game starts.  “You might say that and we get over there and the score might be 80-to-85.  We are going to try to get into an up tempo game.  We are going to try and play defense as hard as we can.  Get our rotations in, get guys in the game and try to wear them out,” he said.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Faces Defending State Champs

 

          Mansfield Senior has been off to fantastic start.  In most of their games this year they have been way better than their opponent.   That will likely end on Friday night when the Tygers host defending division two state champion Dayton Dunbar.

          The Wolverines (4-0) are also unbeaten on the season.

          Mansfield Senior (5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the large school division, is coming off a weekend when they took no prisoners in beating Clear Fork (68-34) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game and Sandusky (84-26) in non-conference play.  Tygers coach J.T. Reece says defense has been leading them to success.  “Well so far so good.  I think we are playing defense at a high rate.  We are also keeping the ball in the area of the floor which makes it hard for other teams to score, which helps us out.  So far, so good,” he said.

          It has been high octane full court zone pressure that has been the Tygers calling card, but Reece says they are doing a lot more with man-to-man stuff this year.  “Where Mansfield Senior has made their mark before was pressuring the ball and trapping and getting in rotations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think this year we are little different we are giving the same pressure and intensity without getting into rotations, without actually trapping because when you get into rotations you make yourself venerable, so we try to stay away from that as much as possible.”

          I don’t know if the Tygers previous opponents would aggress, but Reece wants his team to be better at rebounding the basketball and he wants them to more tough.  “I think rebounding and overall toughness.  We will find out Friday how tough we are and how much we have progressed in those areas,” he said.

          Dunbar has great talent and Reece says they have more than just a couple of good players.  “They bring an excellent reputation.  They are a powerhouse in the state.  They are returning state champs.  They have three or four division one players.  They have one guy.  They call him A.J.  He is pretty good.  We are going to have our hands full come Friday,” says Reece.

          He stops short of calling Dunbar the best team on their schedule.  “I honestly believe the best team we play so far this year is the team we play against in practice.  We will see if that comes true on Friday,” he said.

          Is it a big game coach?  Reece says not any bigger than the other 21 on their schedule for the season.  “The reason why this is the biggest game of the season is because it is our next game.  We treat every game as such.  The very next game on our schedule is the biggest game.  It really doesn’t matter who we are playing.  The only reason this one is circled is because it is our next one,” said Reece.   

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Doing as Planned

 

          Considering a run of success that has included three state tournament appearances over the last 25 years, the Mansfield Senior High Tygers are expected to win and that is just exactly what they have done this year.

          The exclamation mark was last Friday with over Mansfield Madison, the Tygers biggest rival.  After taking a big (38-10) halftime lead, the Tygers went on to blast the Rams (76-27) in their conference opener.  It seems impressive, but coach J.T. Reece says those kinds of performances are what are expected at Pete Henry gym.  “When you come out and win three games and played pretty good defense, rebounded the ball okay, you shot pretty well that does make you feel pretty good,” he said.

          As far as the Madison game in specific is concerned.  Reece says they made some plays on defense early in the game and that led to them getting on a tremendous roll.  “Our kids like to play defense and what happens when you get in a rival game like that is they smell blood in the water.  Our kids kind of attacked an imposed their will defensively,” he said.

          On Friday night it is the first road game for the Tygers in the Ohio Cardinal Conference when they are down at Clear Fork (2-2) against the Colts.  Reece says they have a couple of talented guards in Keith Corbin (26 points against Lexington) and Ridge Winand (27 points against Mt. Vernon) that they will have to deal with.  “They are a well coached team with a couple of left handed guards down there.  They have some pretty tough inside players.  They play well at home, so it should be a nice battle,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior has not lost to Clear Fork on the basketball floor since 1984.  Reece says they just have to go out and play their game and they should be okay.  “We have to play defense, keep their guys in front of us.  We have to rebound the ball and guard the ball without fouling and keep the tempo up,” he said.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Girls Doing Well

 

          Mansfield Senior wants to challenge West Holmes and Orrville in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and they seem to be on the right track.

          They blasted rival Mansfield Madison (69-48) in their conference opener last week and now they are ready for two conference games this week at home against Wooster Thursday and Clear Fork on Saturday.

          Veteran coach Todd Krill says they have been looking pretty good in practice sessions.  “I am happy with how they are working and things in practice.  We have had some long layoffs 10 days and eight days.  That is hard on your team because you aren’t doing things against anybody except yourself.  The girls have been playing pretty good within themselves and what we expect of them,” said Krill.

          The game against Madison was their only contest since November 27 and Krill is concerned that they maybe a little rusty when it comes to competition.  “We played last Thursday and then this Thursday.  I am going in with a little fear that that is a long time off before you play again.  We just have to feel how we are going to be playing (Thursday) night with that kind of layoff,” he said.

          Wooster (2-0,1-0) beat Clear Fork (60-40) in their first “OCC” game last Thursday and Krill says they lost a lot to graduation, but they still have some players.  “They had a pretty good JV team last year and they had some really good players coming off the bench for them last year.  They have Kris Ballard, who is a really strong player for them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “She is a good shooter and handles the ball for them.  They have another girl Chicaloni and she is doing well.  They are just a solid ball club.  This is not a team that can be taken lightly because those are the kind of teams that could easily sneak up and beat you.”

          Clear Fork (3-2,0-1) is a team that relies a lot on underclassmen.  Krill says they have great potential on any night.  “They are young and talented.  That’s a big plus for them.  They have a few girls that can score the ball.  I have seen them a couple of times and they play pretty decent defense.  Clear Fork on any given night if you take them too lightly and don’t work real hard and do what you are supposed to do and try to stop them you could have a long night with Clear Fork,” said Krill.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Ready for Rival Madison

 

          Mansfield Senior opened the season strong and now they face their biggest rival in their first Ohio Cardinal Conference game of the season.

          A goal of the Tygers is to win that conference championship, they shared it last season with Lexington, and that pursuit begins Friday night at Pete Henry Gym against the Madison Rams.

          Last week, the Tygers (2-0) produced a pair of solid efforts in beating Lima Senior (77-67) and Toledo Scott (72-65) in non-conference action.  Coach J.T. Reece, in his first year, says they reacted well to the challenges they faced.  “Our guys were ready to play.  They were tired of beating up on each other the last couple of weeks in practice.  To have a foe come in here at home it was good to see us come out as good as we did defensively.  On Saturday to make that trek up to Toledo, a couple hour ride on the bus, and then get off the bus and go into a hostile environment and come out with a victory says a lot about our team,” said Reece.

          The Tygers are kind of an undersized team in the post, but Reece feels they did real good job rebounding the basketball last week against Lima and Scott.  “Just getting out there and having some fun with each other and actually getting to know each other and playing and rebounding the ball well.  I thought going into the season, and I still think this, our rebounding and post presence is a question mark for us.  In those two games our posts did pretty well points and rebounds wise.  That was most impressive for me,” said Reece.

          It will be the first basketball “Battle of Mansfield” for either head coach.  Tim Mergel is also his first year at Madison.  They lost to Shelby (35-34) last week.  Reece believes the Rams are going to get better on offense, he just hopes it isn’t this week.  “His team will get a lot better as the season goes on, but what we hope happens is they don’t get better come Friday night.  Hopefully Friday night we can do some things, turn the tempo up and make the style of game our kind of game, which will help us and aid us into a victory,” he said.

          Madison blasted Mansfield Senior (34-0) in the rival football game this fall and Reece hopes there aren’t any leftover affects.  “I think that’s the biggest key for our kids is to settle in.  What I mean by that is to get over the whole emotional battle with the thing that happened in our last regular season game in football.  Get over that and hopefully after a couple of minutes of the game we settle in and start to play our game,” said Reece.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Ready to Roll

 

          Mansfield Senior may have a new coach, but they are going to be the same old Tygers in many ways, the first of which is winning.

          J.T. Reece was named the Tygers coach last spring and he leads a team that consists of some football players and he admits there was a little setback in getting those players late due to the playoffs, but it’s nothing that will hurt them too badly.  “We have a veteran group.  Football set us back probably about 10 days maybe even two weeks, but once they got everybody in the gym we seem to hit the ground running,” he said.

          Keon Johnson, last year’s Swnakonsports.com basketball player of the year, returns to lead the Tygers, but Reece says this is a basketball team that has a lot of guys that can just play.  “We have a team full of guys that actually play basketball.  There is no off season for these guys.  They have “AAU” this and that and whatever, they are always playing basketball.  A lot of the things we do are more meticulous.  We have seven maybe even nine, ten guys that can actually play.  We are not just Keon, but he is certainly a delight to have,” said Reece.

          With tremendous athleticism to go along with their basketball skills the Tygers are going to excel in the open floor.  Reece says they must be able to attack teams in the half court also.  “We have to get to a point in the year, hopefully early, where we can beat teams without having to press, without having to create tempo,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I think with the veteran group that we have, the guys we have coming back, they believe in each other, they believe in what we are trying to do.  They believe in the goal, which is good.  Coming off a successful football season with some of those guys it should be real, real, real, real easy to carry that winning attitude over.”

          The Tygers open this weekend with a double.  They are at home with Lima Senior on Friday night and at Toledo Scott on Saturday night.  Reece says like most teams they are going to just try and go out and do the things they do well.  “It is the first game for everybody and that makes a difference in terms of preparation.  All you can kind of do is look back on what they did last year if they have the same coach, which they do, both teams.  Preparation is a little different, but at the same time we are a little different also.  We are going to try and get in your face and get you turned over and make the easy baskets off turnovers, make you play at our speed and box out and rebound and get the ball inside,” said Reece.  

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Poised to Have a Good Season

 

          Mansfield Senior is coming off an inconsistent season in which they did some good things, but not enough or at least not as often as should be.  This year could be vastly different.

          Coach Todd Krill says the preseason so far has been very good for the Lady Tygers.  He has been very happy.  “We are trying to get a little more consistent with our offenses and defenses.  We are starting to see a lot of improvement, especially with our defenses.  We are pretty happy with the way the girls are playing a lot harder this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are playing more together.  I was talking to one my coaches the other day that we are just pretty pleased about the attitudes in practice and scrimmages this year.”

          Quickness and speed have been stables of the Mansfield Senior program for a number year.  Krill says they have those kind of players again and more.  “We have a little bit of both this year.  We have good size and really good speed this year.  We plan to get up and down the floor, get out on our transition game, and try to score some quick points this year.  We are looking forward to running and pressing just trying to score points off our presses and also in transition,” said Krill.

          Mansfield Senior opens the season this week in the Bucyrus Tip-Off Classic on Friday and Saturday.  With back-to-back games Krill says they have to ready to go.  “We have been working with our strength and conditioning coach Chris Hahn.  He has been putting us through routines and that stuff.  We have tried to pick up the pace in practice.  We want to work hard and work fast, but do it in short times.  We are trying to pick up our cardio by doing things along that tine,” he said.

          On Friday, the Lady Tygers face Marion Harding in their first game and either host Bucyrus or Bellevue in their second on Saturday.  Krill says they have a pretty good idea what they will see from Harding.  “They have a really good player in a girl named Saco.  She can be a point guard or and off guard.  She is a real good shooter, good penetrator.  They have a pretty decent post girl that is pretty strong and has good post moves inside.  We have to make sure we get Saco under control.  We need to do the little things like checking out.  Just doing what we need to do.  We don’t have a real good scouting report on them.  We kind of know personnel.  We kind of know what they like to run.  We will just have to see what happens when the game starts,” said Krill.     

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Ready to Challenge

 

          Mansfield Senior is more like the Lady Tygers basketball team we are used to this season, one that has some depth and athleticism on the floor.

          They return quite a bit from a team that went 8-15 and lost in the division one district finals a year ago, including district player of the year Imani Vickers, who is just a junior.  Coach Todd Krill has been pretty impressed with what he has seen so far.  “Well in practice being a veteran team coming back this year we have been pretty happy with what we have seen so far.  We have been taking things and pushing them a little bit harder in practice to see how far we have come from last year to now.  So far we have been happy with them,” he said.

          Krill believes that he is going to be able to put more girls into the lineup than he did last season and the year before that.  “We have very good talent this year.  This might be the first time in a long time that we have this kind of depth.  We will be able to go nine or ten deep this year.  If you make a mistake this year you are coming out.  A friend goes in if they are doing better I guess they get to stay.  The girls know that this year is a whole different ballgame this year with practice and game time,” Krill told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          With the lineup they have the Lady Tygers can be spectacular, but Krill wants them to be good all of the time.  “We always say consistency.  I know that’s the thing that we keep saying all of the time.  That’s what we are looking at being consistent for four quarters.  Working hard to do everything right.  Those are some of the things we have had problems with last year being consistent for four quarters.  Right off the bat this year that is what we are going to be looking for are we going to be consistent or not,” said Krill.

          The Ohio Cardinal Conference is one of the best girls’ basketball conferences in the Northern part of that state.  Krill sees no difference this year beginning with defending division two state runner-up West Holmes.  “We have West Holmes that went to the state last year and they have everybody back from their squad from that state final four team.  I guess that you have to look at them being the favorite in the “OCC.”  I believe that Orrville is going to be very good this year.  They have a great perimeter team.  We are always looking at we are going to compete and be right in there this year also,” said Krill.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Must Limit Turnovers

 

          Mansfield Senior has already enjoyed its best football season in 10 years, but the Tygers want more.

          They face Tiffin Columbian, one of only two teams to beat them this year, in the first round of the division two playoffs on Friday night at National Field in Tiffin.

          The Tygers (8-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, put together a seven game winning streak this year and shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with Mansfield Madison and West Holmes.  Coach Cheokie Bradley says their success is directly tied to their senior leadership.  “A lot of the accomplishments that we have been able to obtain are due to our senior leadership.  We have 16 seniors on this team and those guys have played a lot of football over the years.  I have been coaching our seniors ever since they were ninth graders.  Those kids have done a phenomenal job of taking this team and putting them in a stranglehold and just leading them to get better each day and make every day feel like it is their last,” said Bradley.

          Columbian (10-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll, is the outright Northern Ohio League champion.  Bradley says the Tornadoes are very good on both sides of the ball.  “They do everything right.  They are a well coached football team.  They are fundamentally sound.  It is hard to find some things that they do wrong.  They are 10-0 for a reason.  They are number one in our region for a reason.  I think we caught them early in the year. They were just getting rolling,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We were a totally different football team at that time.  They have a big time running back in the Jacoby kid.  He is phenomenal leader on that football team.  They have some other kids on the team too that do some good things.  I think all in all from top to bottom they are just a good football team.”

          Last week was the Tygers toughest loss of the season when arch rival Madison beat them (34-0) to force the three-way tie for the league title.  Bradley says this week their leaders have stepped up.  “The kids have done a phenomenal job of putting that behind us and knowing what that game was and understanding how to move on.  We have had four pretty good practices this week.  (Wednesday) we went full pads and we usually don’t go full pads and got after it a little bit.  Our guys were very excited about that.  They were just flying around and doing the things I love to see them do.  It was an unfortunate event for the team.  We are taking that game last week as something that we need to refocus as a football program.  Sometimes when you take a loss that late in the season, especially going into the playoffs it can be a humbling experience.  They came out Saturday morning and refocused and it has shown everyday this week,” said Bradley.

          On week two, Columbian beat Mansfield Senior (33-22), but it was 33-7 with just over two minutes to play.  Bradley feels if they limit the turnovers they have a real good chance of winning.  “I think the number one glaring thing that we have to correct from the first meeting is not turning the football over.  I think we turned the ball over three times going into scoring position.  We turned the ball over again on our own 10 yard line.  That is a lot of points left out there.  They capitalized on the turnover on our own 10.  When you play against a 10-0 team you just can’t do that.  You can’t turn the ball over and as a team we know that.  We just have to execute and take care of the football.  If we can take care of the football and execute on the offensive side of the ball we will put ourselves in good position to be successful,” said Bradley.     

 

 
 

Big Plays the Key For Mansfield Senior

 

          This has the makings of being the best Mansfield Senior team in a deacde, but there are still some steps that have to be taken by the Tygers to reach those goals.

          Last week, they dominated the Clear Fork Colts (35-15) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game, beating the Colts for just the second time since 1988.  Coach Chioke Bradley thinks they won the game in the trenches.  “I felt we came out and played physical at the point of attack on the defensive side and the offensive side.  We were able to move the ball on offense and we got after them a little bit on defense with our defensive line and linebackers.  I think that was a big difference in the outcome of the ball game,” said Bradley.

          The Tygers have won three of their first four games with their only loss coming to unbeaten Tiffin Columbian.  Bradley feels confident this is going to be an outstanding year for the Tygers.  “We are definitely headed in the right direction with our football program.  You know, the sky is the limit with these kids if they continue to get better on the week of practice as far as our preparation to execute on Fridays,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (3-1,1-0) is at Orrville (1=3,0-1) to battle the Red Riders in an “OCC” game on Friday night.  Despite the Red Riders three game losing streak, Bradley knows that Orrville is always tough to beat.  “This is a typical Orrville team.  They are very athletic and they are an extremely well coached football team.  Coach Davault does a great job over there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have athletes and they can’t be underestimated.  We can’t look past them.  They are Orrville and they are going to keep coming at you.  They are 1-3 I remember us being in the same position last year being 1-3 and them being 3-1 and we beat them.  It’s the same situation and we look forward to a good football game.”

          There is tremendous speed and athleticism on the Tygers roster this season and Bradley says they have to put that to work by creating some big plays if they are going to win this game at Orrville.  “Our offense is based on big plays.  Then off the big plays we like to get that running game.  Defensively that is our motto to try and eliminate the big plays.  I think if we can continue to do that we should be able to have some good success.  They have playmakers over there and they have guys that can make those plays and we have to keep them from doing that,” said Bradley.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Needs More Focus

 

          After a good start, and a win over Galion, Mansfield Senior did not play very well on week two in a loss to Tiffin Columbian.

          Columbian pretty much dominated the game last week winning 33-22, but leading 33-7 with less than three minutes to play.  Coach Chioke Bradley says they weren’t ready to play.  “It was a lack of focus.  The kids came out flat.  It was a lack of focus.  To beat a good team you have to play four quarters,” he said.

          Bradley says there has been a change in direction so far this week as his players have preformed better in practice sessions.  “I think we have started out with a good week of practice.  We have had a couple of good days of practice and we are going to go at it again (on Wednesday.)  I think we got the kids attention,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You know, a loss this early in the season affected the kids.  We came out hard Monday and worked hard on the little things.  (Tuesday) was a good offensive practice.  I feel good about where we at right now.”

          Bradley believes his team has enough talent to win a lot of games, but it remains to be seen if they can have enough focus.  “We have talent everywhere, but if you don’t come ready to play the worst team could beat you,” he said,

          Marion Harding (1-1) comes to Arlin Field for a non-conference match-up with the Tygers on Friday night.  The Presidents were shout out (27-0) by Mt. Vernon on week one, but they responded to beat Lima Senior (40-33) last week.  Bradley predicts there will be some intensity.  “Marion is a tough team.  You know, that is a rival game.  They hate us, we hate them, so you know it’s going to be a tough game.  They have athletes and we do too,” said Bradley.

          Bradley says they have to run their stuff better on offense and they have play with some emotion when they are defending against Harding.  “I think the key for us is to execute on the offensive side of the ball.  We need to take care of the football.  Defensively, if we can fly around and tackle and take away the things they like to do we should be successful,” he said.   

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Players Excited

 

          Mansfield Senior opens the season tonight on the road against the Galion Tigers.

          Both teams have high aspirations for this season as they have been predicted to finish high in their respective conferences, if not in first place, and have a solid chance to make the playoffs.

          In a conversation with Swankonsports.com on Friday Mansfield Senior coach Chioke Bradley says it has been a good preseason for his kids.  “We fell like we have been working pretty hard this summer preparing for this day and the upcoming season.  I feel good about our progress at this point.  I am just really excited and excited about this game tonight.  It’s two great teams and it should be a very eventful and exciting football game,” he said.

          Bradley believes that with the experience and ability they have in the defensive backfield the Tygers are going to be very tough to throw the ball against.  “I think defensively we should be pretty stout.  We have some speed and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball.  We return everybody in the secondary.  It’s going to be pretty tough to through the football against those guys back there.  We have some pretty good ball hawks.  I think the up side for our team this year is just athleticism and experience finally.  We played with a lot of young guys last year who were able to get a lot of experience.  So, this year we are going to expect those guys to play big for us.  I think we have some petty good athletes that run around well,” said Bradley.

          One of the few negatives associated with Senior High this year, according to Bradley, is the lack of depth on the roster.  “I think depth is always an issue with us.  We have come a long way with our numbers.  We are right around 70 to 75 kids, you know, nine through 12.  It is far away from the 100 plus kids that we used to have when I played here.  I think it’s depth at certain positions.  I think that is the only thing that concerns me,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior rallied to beat Galion 34-20 at Arlin Field last season.  Bradley believes Galion will give them a tussle this year too.  “I expect them to come out and be lights out and be full of energy and fired up.  They are expecting to have a great season.  They have two phenomenal football players on that team along with some other good football players on that team.  They have a great coach in Hawkins, so I know he is going to have those guys hired up and prepared.  I expect those guys to come out and fight, just like we will,” said Bradley.    

 

 
 

Tygers Take Tournament Win

 

          Mansfield Senior continues to accomplish things that they haven’t done on the baseball field in a long time.

          Tuesday night they won a tournament game for the first time in recent memory as they edged Marion Harding (3-2) in the division one sectional semi-finals on Tuesday night.  They now advance to play Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Ashland, #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the large school division, on Thursday evening, again at Fremont Ross.

          Coach Kris Beasley says his team is brimming with confidence right now.  “Well I think three in a row is a winning streak.  We are feeling really good.  We get to take on a conference rival in Ashland on Thursday and we are excited for the opportunity,” he said.

          A key factor in the win over Harding, according to Beasley, was the pitching performance of starter J.R. Davis, which led them to the victory.  “Our last three games have been real baseball scores.  You have a 2-1, a 4-3 and a 3-2.  We have been pitching the ball pretty well and fielding it.  (Tuesday) night our senior J.R. Davis stepped up.  He came through with 10 strikeouts had only one walk, so he really stepped up for us,” said Beasley.

          Defense is normally a problem for inexperienced teams like Mansfield Senior (8-15), especially in high pressure tournament games.  However, Beasley says they made some plays this time.  “We had a few errors (Tuesday).  More than you would like to see.  Overall we had guys make routine plays.  We had some spectacular plays, one by our first basemen and one by our shortstop going towards third and making the throw.  Like I said last week we starting to play some pretty good ball,’ he said.

          Ashland beat Mansfield Senior (13-2 and 10-0) in a pair of “OCC” games in early April and Beasley knows they are going to see one of the best pitchers in the area Thursday in the Arrows Adam Schaly.  “Being a tournament game you know we are going to see the guy going D-one Schaly.  I’m sure he will start it.  The kid has a perfect game and has an ERA of something like 0.50.  That’s going to be what we have to overcome.  We are going to have to be patient at the plate and try to get fastballs and not get too eager on the breaking pitches,” said Beasley.

          He says he wants his batters to wait on the fastball and then hit it hard.  “If he can get you out on your front foot swinging at the breaking stuff and then he is going to bring the 90 MPH fastball that you have no chance at.  You have to make him work.  You have to make him throw a lot of pitches.  We are a younger team in terms of varsity experience and sometimes patience is not one of our best virtues,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have been working on it, planning, not to be over optimistic, or sound big headed or anything like that, but we have been looking forward to this game.  We have been game planning for this team, so we are going to have an approach when we face them on Thursday.”    

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Believes They Can Win

 

          Mansfield Senior is a much better baseball team this year they have been in recent years and the Tygers have a chance to win a tournament game this year.

          They were supposed to play Marion Harding in the division one sectional semi-finals on Monday night, but the game was postponed due to heavy rains at Fremont Ross High School.  It will be played Tuesday if the weather cooperates.

          Marion Harding is a team without a league and they have been doing a lot of traveling to find games this spring.  Tygers coach Kris Beasley says the Presidents are similar to them in many ways.  “Marion Harding is a team very similar to us as far as won loss record.  They are a little bit down.  They do play an independent schedule, so they play a lot of the Marion County local teams.  We have played them once this season.  We got a win over them.  I figure (Tuesday) we will see their number one pitcher, Shawn Tyler, that we actually played against last year in the sectional semi-final.  He did a pretty nice job last year, so we have our work cut out for us,” said Beasley.

          Mansfield Senior (7-15) beat arch rival Mansfield Madison twice last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference play and Beasley says those wins, the first over Madison this century, have given the players shot of confidence.  “Our kids are really confident and they were really, really excited to get two wins over Madison.  They are a cross town rival and they know a lot of those kids.  Frankly, we haven’t had any success against those kids in about 15 years.  It was really sweet for our kids to get those wins last week.  We hit the ball a little, we executed, and they were two well played games.  It gave our kids some confidence to play well in close games.  One game was 2-1 and one game was 4-3.  They were well played, close, competitive ball games,” he said.

          The winner of Tuesday’s game will advance to play top seed Ashland (18-2) in the sectional final on Thursday at Fremont Ross. 

          With not much success in the tournament in recent years, Beasley believes it will help his team if they can score a couple of runs early in the game on Tuesday.  “We are going to be the visiting team (Tuesday), so we will get a chance to get our sticks out early.  The first time around against Marion we had to come back from behind.  They scored five, six runs in the first inning on a couple of errors.  They hit the ball around, so yeah we definitely want to come out (Tuesday) and score first and put the pressure on them,” said Beasley.

          The Tygers railed to beat Marion Harding (9-7) in a non-conference game back on April 9.  Beasley says both teams have changed a lot since then and he thinks the result of that game will have little bearing on what happens on Tuesday.  “Our lineup has changed so much.  Neither of us threw our number one starter in that game.  I’m pretty sure Shawn Tyler, their number one, and J.R. Davis, our number, are going to be the pitchers.  It was like the second week of the season that we played.  It’s been a long season and we have changed quite a few things around.  It’s going to be a new experience for both teams.  We are going to have to figure things out of the fly,’ said Beasley.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Gets Big Win

 

          Mansfield Senior did something on Tuesday night that they have very rarely done.  They beat arch rival Mansfield Madison in a baseball game.

          The Tygers (6-15,2-9) downed the Rams (2-1) at Arlin Field on Tuesday.  Coach Kris Beasley says he has been led to believe that this is the first time they have beaten Madison this century.  “It was a big win especially for our seniors.  They have not beaten Madison.  I was even told by some of our veteran fans they think it may be as many as 15 years since we beat Madison at home.  So, it was a real emotional win and nice win for our program,” he said.

          Beasley, in his second year with the program, says the team has been playing better baseball over the last ten days and he knew that this was a win they could get.  “We are a program that has been down for quite a while.  We went through a lull there in the middle of the season where we slipped back on some things, some bad habits,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night after the victory, “Even though we lost both games of a non-conference doubleheader to Clear Fork on Saturday the boys played well.  Then we played well again (Tuesday) night and got the win.  We are hoping to get some good momentum going into our sectional game on Monday.”

          Mansfield Senior played Clear Fork four times last week, twice in Ohio Cardinal Conference games, and twice in a Saturday doubleheader.  They lost all four, but Beasley says the Tygers are starting to play with more confidence.  “You hate to talk about moral victories, but Clear Fork is a good program.  They have really done a nice job down there building that program up.  Our kids, I don’t want to say they are happy with moral victories, but what we are trying to do is get a better program.  You know, it doesn’t happen over night, it takes time, but the kids can see it coming.  They are playing with a lot more confidence and having fun out there,” Beasley said.

          Mansfield Senior is part of one of the tougher division one sectionals in the northern part of the state.  Beasley says it would be a tremendous boost to the program if they could find some success.  “I wish we could be in a different sectional.  We have three teams that were ranked at one time in the top ten in the state with Ashland, Sandusky and Norwalk.  And then you have us, Marion Harding and Madison.  We will square off with Madison on Monday.  If we are fortunate enough to win then we get Ashland on Thursday.  It’s a tough draw, but it would be nice and another step in our program to get a tournament win,” said Beasley.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Rallies For Win

 

          Mansfield Senior hopes to build some momentum that can bring them an Ohio Cardinal Conference win this week against talented Wooster.

          Monday, the Tygers (3-5,0-4) railed from a 6-0 deficit to beat the Marion Harding Presidents (9-7) in a non-conference game at Arlin Field.  Coach Kris Beasley says it was a quality win for a team that has been struggling to get them in recent years.  “It is a team that we will likely see in the sectional tournament draw, so it was good for our guys to get out there and get a good win over a rising D-one school,” he said.

          The Tygers found themselves down 6-0 to the Presidents after just two innings.  However, Beasley says they found the right pitcher to put on the mound and then got hot with the bats and put some hits together.  “Our senior starter struggled a little bit with walks and hit a couple of guys in the first inning.  We let him go back in in the second inning and they ended up with six runs after the second inning,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Monday, “We brought in a sophomore in Jalen Reece, that is also the quarterback for the football team, and he really settled things down for us.  He gave up only one run over three innings and we were able to score some runs behind him.”

          Mansfield Senior’s other two wins this season came against division four Mansfield Christian in a doubleheader 10 days ago.  They have lost their four “OCC” contests to Orrville and Ashland, both very good teams. 

          Beasley hopes the win against Marion Harding came bring them some success when they hit the road for Wooster (1-6,0-4) on Tuesday night for a league game.  Beasley believes they have talent, they just need a little momentum.  “I think baseball more than any other sport you can really kind of build positively or negatively.  It can snowball for you and you can get some things going.  The sticks getting warm for us (Monday) will bode well for us as we go to Wooster (Tuesday) and a doubleheader this week with Northmor,” said Beasley.

          Wooster finished second in the “OCC” last season, but they have lost back-to-back series to co-leaders Ashland and West Holmes.  Beasley is hoping they can take their hot bats with them to Wooster on Tuesday.  “I know a lot of early season forecasts picked Wooster to finish up toward the top of the conference.  They struggled against Ashland and last week they struggled against West Holmes.  With us coming off a win where we really hit the ball well maybe we can go over there when they are scuffling a little bit and get a win on them,” said Beasley.

 

 
 

Coaches Resign

 

          The coaches for the two schools that shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title have resigned their positions.

          Both Jamie Feick of Lexington and Mansfield Senior’s Effie James have stepped down.

          Feick resigned due to family obligations.  He and his wife are expecting twins this summer and he feels his responsibilities lie there.  He said he came to that realization only after coaching in the News Journal all-star game last Friday.  However, there were rumors to that affect since before the season even began.

          Lexington won an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title in Fieck’s first year last year.  They were eliminated in the first round of last year’s division two tournament by Mansfield Madison.  They lost in the district finals last month to eventual state runner-up Elida.

            James, who was 69-21 in four seasons as the head coach, says he was shocked when the Mansfield City Board of Education said they didn’t want him back.  “I have decided to resign as head basketball coach st Mansfield Sr.  I regret that it had to happen this way, but at this time the district has decided I’m not the best fit for this position.  The most important thing to me was the development of my players as young men, then as basketball players.  Who I am as a person conflicts with leadership in the school district.  That’s unfortunate.  I love all my players like my own sons and hope nothing but the best for them and Tyger Basketball.  God Bless,” James said on his facebook page this morning.

          Mansfield Senior advanced to the division one super sectional finals this year before losing to unbeaten Norwalk.

          The Tygers won three “OCC” titles in James four years as coach.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Can’t Get Behind this Time

 

          Last week, Mansfield Senior rallied from 23 down in the second quarter and to win its first tournament game of year over Ashland, however, that dramatic of a comeback is unlikely to happen again.

          The Tygers (18-3) lock horns with Norwalk (21-0) in the division one super sectional final on Thursday night at Willard High School.  It is a game that has been looked upon with anticipation for months.

          Mansfield Senior, the co-champion of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, beat Ashland (89-78) last Friday when Keon Johnson scored 41 points.  Norwalk, the outright Northern Ohio League champ, breezed past league rival Sandusky (74-36) in their opener.

          Mansfield Senior coach Effie James says they have played a great schedule, but Norwalk is the best team they have played this year.  “They are the most complete team that I have seen.  They have talent at every position.  They are extremely athletic.  They are very good and disciplined at what they do offensively.  Defensively they are very sound.  When you talk about complete basketball teams they are the most complete team we have played this year.  Coach Gray has done an outstanding job with this group of guys.  They have some youth, but that youth is experienced because these sophomores that are playing now played as freshmen.  They have a great mix of youth and experience,” said James.

          One of the keys to Norwalk’s success this year is they can do a lot of things.  James says that’s the case if they have the ball or they are defending you.  “They have shown a lot of different looks defensively.  They show a lot of different looks offensively.  They can get up and down the floor with teams.  I have seen them win that way.  I have also seen them win playing straight up man-to-man defense, being solid, and rebounding.  He has got a group that has got to be fun to coach.  They do a lot of things well.  Anything as a coach you can draw up when you have a group of experienced guys they can execute it, that has to be a great feeling,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They have that.  They have a great point guard that’s a sophomore.  Jeff Thomas is also an outstanding player and he is a sophomore.  They do so many things well.  The way they switch defenses.  You know, a lot of teams switch defenses, but a lot teams can’t be good equally at each one and that’s what sets them apart.  They switch defenses a lot, but they are solid in every defense that they play.”

          Steve Gray, the Norwalk coach, has been somewhat known for a more deliberate offense, but James says that is not necessarily the case this year for the Truckers.  “They have shown that when they need to be disciplined offensively, and run offense, and get three or four reversals, they can do that.  But, also they have the talent to free lance.  He has offenses that are designed for somewhat of a free lance.  All of those things complement his talent.  When you can put in an offense that has free lance ability, you have guys that can handle the basketball, it makes it easy, you don’t have to call a play every time down when you have a guy that can penetrate the lane and create shots for himself or his teammates,” said James.

          There are going to be a lot of elements to this game, but James says for them they have to play a consistent four quarters of basketball and not have too many peaks and valleys.  “The key for us is we have to play the entire game.  That’s the biggest key.  Of course we are going to have to rebound against them, we will have to do our best to limit their open looks, but the biggest key for us is we are going to have to play the entire four quarters.  We can’t get caught up in if they have big lead, or we have a big lead, the game is going to come down and be won or lost in the fourth quarter,” he said, “If we can put ourselves in position where we are playing solid basketball and do the things we need to do to be in the game in the fourth quarter we feel like we have a good chance to win.  Where you can lose basketball games is early in the game when you get caught up in either having a lead or being behind at some point.  We just want to concentrate on playing a complete game and is we can do that we will give ourselves a great chance to win,” said James.         

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Must Execute While Playing Fast

 

          Mansfield Senior and Ashland split their regular season games and to the winner of the rubber match on Friday night in the division one tournament at Willard High School goes a possible match-up with unbeaten Norwalk in the super sectional final next week.

          The Tygers (17-3), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for larger schools, beat Ashland at Pete Henry Gym (67-58), but lost in early February at Arrow Arena (74-66) to the Arrows. 

          Ashland advanced with a solid win over Marion Harding (82-66) on Tuesday night behind 25 points form Brandon Nardo.  Ashland beat both of the co-champions in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this year because they also downed Lexington.  Mansfield Senior coach Effie James says sometimes Ashland is just very tough to beat, almost impossible.  “They have the ability to be a team no one can beat.  When they play well and they shoot the ball well, there are just some things they do that you just can’t defend.  That is the scary thing about playing this kind of team.  They can give you so many problems with the way that they play.  First of all they are athletic, can get up and down the floor, they can also hit shots from the perimeter.  You have to guard all five guys that they have on the court.  In high school basketball that is not always the case, but you have to guard all five guys they have on the floor.  All five guys that they have will be a threat to score.  That is what makes them so dangerous offensively.  For us to be successful we are going to have to play a solid defensive game and really rebound well for us to have a chance.  Even then it will still be a great ball game because they are the type of team they are going to hit shots.  They are going to play controlled at times when they need to and they are going to find the basket,” said James.

          At one point late in the season Ashland (9-12) lost six of seven, but three of those were without Nardo in the lineup, and James says that makes a difference.  “Even coach Fralich would tell you when Nardo is not in.  It’s just like any other type of machine that you have to have.  If you have one of your main cogs that isn’t there it throws everything out of balance.  I watched a couple of games without him in the lineup and they were out of balance as a team.  Even thought you wouldn’t think one guy would make that much of a difference, but he balances them by putting everybody in their proper position.  They have a comfort level with a guy like him and you should.  Nardo is a great player.  Since he has been back I think he scored 21 against Madison and he had 25 points Tuesday against Marion Harding.  He stepped right back in the lineup and was very productive.  They look as good as they have ever looked right now,” said James.

          Ashland is one of the few teams in this area that will try to run with Mansfield Senior and be successful at it.  James says running that style isn’t as easy as it may seem.  “Ashland has become very good at running an up tempo, but also being able to have some structure.  When you talk about a team that plays up tempo there are certain things that you have to take care of.  For us we want to play up tempo, but in two games, an interesting stat that we saw against them was the fact that we had too many turnovers,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The first time we played them we had 20 at our place and when they beat us there we had 21.  So, between two games we had 41 turnovers and that’s a big key when you talking about winning a game against a team that is going to maximize their possessions.  We can’t give away our possessions against a team that is going to maximize theirs and expect to be successful.”

          James says for the Tygers to be the team that advances on Friday night they must execute what they are doing.  “The big key for us is not only playing fast and playing with tempo, but also taking care of the basketball.  We have to understand that being fast is not just running up and down the court.  It’s having a purpose when you are running and look to execute and get baskets from running offensively and be able to get stops when you are running defensively,” said James.

 

 
 

Consistency the Trick For Mansfield Senior

 

          With their athleticism and talent the Mansfield Senior girls’ basketball has a lot of potential, but it has pretty much gone unrealized so far this year.  They get another chance on Thursday night.

          They play Ashland, another team from the Ohio Cardinal Conference, for the third time this year.  The winner advances to the division one district final in Findlay on Saturday.  Thursday night’s game will be played at Galion High School.

          The Lady Tygers (7-14) beat Marion Harding for the third time on the season (52-23) at Bucyrus on Saturday night.  Coach Todd Krill feels like his team finally put it all together.  “I think against Harding we played really consistent basketball for four quarters.  We are very happy with the effort.  In the game against Marion Harding we just did a very good job of playing good offense and playing strong defense.  It was probably one of the more complete games that we have played all year,” said Krill.

          Mansfield Senior has the coaches association district player of the year in division one in Imani Vickers and they have another first team member in Dierra Bluester, but yet they finished in the bottom half of the “OCC.”  Krill says it has been a frustrating year.  “This team has a lot of potential and that’s what has made us a little upset this year.  We have had a lack of focus sometimes in ball games or in practice.  It ends of carrying over into ball games.  We see so much potential and we tell the girls that we really believe in them, but they have got to start believing in themselves.  They have to start playing the game the way we want them to play it,” said Krill.

          For the first time in a number of years, if not ever, Ashland beat Mansfield Senior twice in the regular season, winning at Pete Henry (42-38) and at Arrow Arena (50-39) a couple of weeks ago.  Krill says Ashland coach Jason Snow has brought the Lady Arrows program up like a Phoenix.  “They are very good.  One thing that I have always liked about Ashland is they play very, very good defense.  I think their defense has got them a lot of wins this year.  I have talked to Jason many times and he would tell me they didn’t shoot the ball very well,” Krill told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday. “Their defense consists form the time the game starts all of the way to the end.  He is relying on his defense to get him some easy baskets, which has happened for him this year.  I really like the work that Jason has done at Ashland High School.”

          It’s going to be that consistency that tells the story in the game Thursday night at Galion.  Krill believes if they play like they did last Saturday they have a chance.  “I think the biggest thing we are going to have to do is not turn the ball over.  The first two times that we played them we turned the ball over in key situations and that kind of cost us.  We are going to have to play almost turnover free.  We have to stay very consistent on defense and also try to score some baskets off of turnovers.  He is probably thinking the same way I am, you know, stop the turnovers.  We are kind of identical to each other.  Ashland is just a little more consistent and that is what we are looking for a little consistency,” said Krill. 

 

 
 

A Win For A Title For Tygers

 

          The season is almost three months old and it comes down to the final weekend in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Mansfield Senior and Lexington share the “OCC” lead with one game left.  The Tygers host Wooster and Lexington is at home for Orrville on Friday night.

          Senior High (15-3,10-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll among large schools, put itself in position for the title by winning at Orrville (72-65) last week.  Tygers coach Effie James knows that Orrville is a tough place to win and they are very pleased to come away with an important win.  “We were really fortunate to be able to go in and to play well enough to come out with that tough win.  They are very, very tough at home.  It’s a credit to our guys that we stuck in there.  They made a few runs at us during the game.  We were able to hold our composure and walk out with a win,” he said.

          Wooster (8-11,5-8) has been an up down kind of team this season, but James realizes that they have to expect Wooster to play very well against them.  “They are a team that can tie together points in a hurry.  They have some really good players.  They have some youth mixed with some experience.  Their postman Stokes is a three year starter now.  They have a really athletic point guard in Preston.  They gave us problems at their place.  It’s going to be a tough game.  We are going to have to come in ready to play and give our best effort if we want to claim the championship,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior won at Wooster (58-56) on February 7 and James says Wooster was able to get the ball into the post and score against them on that night.  “They make things hard on you because they have some capable shooters.  They have some guys that can really penetrate the lane.  Where they did their damage against us was inside.  When we played them Daugherty and Stokes inside really scored well against us.  I think they had 16 points a piece when we played them the first time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We are going to have to do a better job of handling their interior game and try to contain Preston on the perimeter.  We have to make sure as a team that we limit their second shot opportunities.  Those things are always a constant for us.  If we can do that and get out in transition and try and play at our tempo we will give ourselves a good chance.”

          Although Wooster did some good things against the Tygers the first time they played James knows that the Generals are going to come out with a little different plan this time.  “The second game in the conference is never a carbon copy because there are very good coaches in this league and they are going to adjust.  Coach Martin I’m sure is going to tweak his game plan to fit against us and try to do a good job of limiting what we do well and trying to exploit our faults.  We don’t expect to be the same type of game although we do want the game to be played in a certain way that is best for us as far as tempo is concerned.  As coaches we try to come up with game plans, but when it comes down to it, it is up to the kids on the court to go out there and execute.  The team that executes the best usually comes out on top,” said James.

          Lexington would be favored to beat Orrville at home, so the Tygers are likely going to have to win in order to share the “OCC” title.  James says this is what they have been striving for all season.  “It’s a championship game.  It’s all or nothing pretty much in terms of the league title.  That has been our goal from day one to compete and have a chance to play for a league title and it’s right here in front of us, so we have take advantage of that.  The fact that it’s a home game makes it better for us.  We have played much better at home than we have on the road this year.  We are expecting a great effort from our kids, but we are also expecting a great effort from Wooster.  It should be interesting, we are just hoping that we can put things together enough that we can come out of this game with a win and a championship,” said James.  

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Must Stay on Focus

 

          Mansfield Senior can’t be thinking about what happened last time or could happen next week, if they are going to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference basketball title they have to be thinking only about beating the improved Orrville Red Riders.

          Right now, the Tygers are tied for first place in the league with Lexington with two games to play.  Senior High plays at Orrville on Friday night and they host Wooster next week.  For Lexington it’s the opposite.  They are at Wooster on Friday and home for Orrville next week.

          Last week featured three wins for the Tygers, two of them in the conference with wins over Wooster (58-56) and West Holmes (74-61), plus a non-conference victory over Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (73-65) on Saturday night.  Coach Effie James says they playing pretty well, but he is still concerned about consistency.  “Right now we are doing some thing well.  This last week we played pretty well in our games against Wooster, West Holmes, and St. Vincent/St. Mary, but again with high school kids the thing you worry about most is the consistency, being able to bring the same thing every night, the same effort and energy.  Those are the things we are talking about right now.  Making sure we can come into the game, be focused and bring the same effort and energy we had last Friday and Saturday night,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior (14-3,9-3), #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll in the large school division, visits Orrville (6-10,5-7) in conference play on Friday night.  Orrville has certainly been a better team in the second half of the season and James says his players have to understand that this isn’t the same team they beat (73-45) in January.  “When we played them the first time I think they were maybe 1-7 and really struggling to play well.  Since then they have put together quite a few wins.  They have gained some confidence and got some big wins against Lexington and had a big win against Ashland.  They are playing with a lot more confidence.  We told our kids we have to be prepared for a much better team.  We can pretty much wipe that first game out our memory.  A team with confidence playing at home is always going to give their best effort.  We have to be able to match and exceed their energy and play our game from beginning to end,” said James.

          Orrville is an older style gym with a smaller floor and it has often been den of horrors for other teams in the conference.  James says they have to play with a lot of energy and get off to a better start than they have been on the road.  “They definitely take advantage of their home floor.  It’s a little bit smaller than the rest of the floors in the league.  It’s gives them a great advantage.  They are used to that.  It’s like any home gym.  I mean most teams are going to shoot better at home and feel more comfortable at home,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “For us, we have to do a much better job of getting ourselves mentally and physically prepared.  We have struggled in general on the road pretty much all year long.  We just have to find ways to start the game strong and not let teams get comfortable on their home floor.  When you do that you get yourself in trouble,”

          The “OCC” title is certainly in site for the Tygers, but James says they can’t get too anxious because if they do it will cost them.  “We are a team that in the last couple of years.  We won the league and we have lost the league.  In the two years that we lost the league, we lost it by one game.  The year we won the league, we went undefeated in the league.  We understand how important it is to finish.  For us to win this league we can not afford to look ahead.  I think a couple of times here, including maybe last year and a couple years prior we got caught looking ahead and dropped one these last two games, which actually cost us the conference titles.  We are trying to stay focused one game at a time and understand our destiny is in our hands, but we certainly have to play well to be champions,” said James.       

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Girls Still Looking

 

          Mansfield Senior can be good, sometimes very good for short periods of time, but some poor play during games have led to some losses, some would say more losses than expected.

          The Lady Tygers (6-13,3-10) play at home against Lexington (11-8,6-7) in their final regular season game on Thursday night at Pete Henry Gym. 

          With the postseason tournament starting next week, Senior High coach Todd Krill says they continue to work in practice at ironing out some of the things that are holding them back.  “We have been trying to get better every week.  We went back to the basics a little bit to see if we could get ourselves right and get the ship right again.  I think we are headed in the right direction.  We’ll take the Lexington game to try and get ourselves straight.  We’ll see, we’ll see what happens.  Our girls haven’t pulled the tent, practice has been good.  We’re just going to take it from there,” said Krill.

          They have the ability to give the other team fits with their pressure defense, and they can get the offensive rebounds, but according to Krill they can’t do any of that for 32 minutes.  “That is still a lot of it, the lack of consistency.  We can play a real great three quarters and then come out and play a real bad quarter and turn the ball over.  I have been calling our team the Jekyll and Hyde team all year long.  It seems like that guy named Hyde comes sneaking out all of the time.  He has been catching us quite a bit.  We are trying to get ourselves better and see if we can get our basketball game right again,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

          Lexington’s record is not going to stand out, but they are a solid basketball team that has been beaten Wooster, #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll in the large school division, and just downed Mansfield St. Peter’s, #2 in the small school poll, on Tuesday night.  Krill says Lexington is a veteran unit with very good players.  “I think the biggest thing they bring to the table is they bring a lot of experience.  They have girls that have played together since they were freshmen.  I think Daryl Uhde would say there has been some inconsistency on their part too.  I think they are really putting it together right now.  I believe they are going to be a very good team in the division two tournament.  For us we have to slow down their shooters and do what we are supposed to do,” said Krill.   

 

 
 

Another Must Win Game For Tygers

 

          The upset loss to Ashland last week has put the Mansfield Senior Tygers in a situation where they are likely going to have to win out to earn a piece of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          Right now, they share first place with the Lexington Minutemen in the conference standings with three conference games left for each,

          Mansfield Senior almost fell off that pedestal when they survived a cliff hanger on Tuesday night at Wooster (58-56) in a make up game from a cancellation in January.  Senior High coach Effie James says it is pretty much just stay alive at this point and they were able to do that.  “We were proud to be able to go in and secure that win.  Wooster had been playing well at home.  In fact, I think they were undefeated at home up until that point.  That was certainly a quality win for our team going there and getting the win,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (12-3,8-3) plays host to West Holmes (9-6,6-5) on Friday night in what is a must win game for the Tygers.  In their first meeting this year in Millersburg, the Tygers needed overtime (73-64) to come out on top.  West Holmes’ outstanding sophomore point guard Brady Arnold scored 26 points in that game.  James says he is the straw that stirs the drink for West Holmes.  “They go as he goes.  He is one that is extremely tough to guard.  He presents a lot of challenges to us off the dribble and he comes off screens.  He does everything that they need him to do.  When they need him to score, he does a good job of that.  When they need him to distribute to the bigs inside he can do that too.  He is a great all around player for them,” said James.

          West Holmes is one of the better rebounding teams in the “OCC” this season and James knows that controlling the boards is going to be a big factor in this game.  “We struggled with that the first time we played them.  I think they out rebounded us by a few rebounds overall.  It wasn’t just them being bigger, it was them showing better effort.  We are hoping Friday we can give a better effort rebounding regardless of their size and ours.  We just have to do a better job of getting the job done in that area if we want to win the game,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior needs to play Wooster again and travel to dangerous Orrville.  James believes, like most, that all three of those games are going to have to be wins.  “That is what everybody at this point is thinking.  Everybody has to take care of themselves.  You certainly have to take care of your home court.  You have to let the conference fall where it may, but if we take care of our home court and play as well as we capable I think we will be right there at the end,” said James.   

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior In Must Win Situation

 

          After a loss to Ashland last week, Mansfield Senior might have to run the table in conference games in order to share of the “OCC” title and there is no question that is the case if they expect to win it outright.

          Last Friday, Ashland, the team nobody wants to play, beat the Tygers (74-66) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game at Arrow Arena.  Mansfield Senior coach Effie James says they knew Ashland was going to give them a battle.  “A team like Ashland had dropped a few games here lately and were looking to get back on track playing a home game and they played extremely well.  We didn’t do some things as well as we like, but I think they had a lot to do with that.  Some people may think that Ashland is a second tier team in this conference, but those of us who have played them know how good they can be.  We understand their record is no indication of their talent and what they can do on the basketball court.  We knew we had to come in and be hitting on all cylinders and we didn’t quite get it done,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior (11-3,7-3) has four conference games left on its schedule, including a make up date at Wooster on Tuesday night.  James says they know they have to get back on the winning track.  “At this part of the season you are looking to take steps forward.  This is another opportunity for us to continue to improve to learn from the mistakes that we made before.  It’s a road game, it’s another league road game.  We have an opportunity to get better in that type of environment.  It’s going to be a tough place to play as was Ashland,” James told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It’s a chance to redeem ourselves by learning to play better away from home.  Really first place is on the line, so it’s another pressure situation as are all of the games down the stretch here.  It’s the same for Lexington and I’m sure coach Feick will tell you that all of the games down the stretch are vital.  Being able to go to Wooster and maintain a share of first place is very important to us right now.”

          Wooster (6-8,5-5) has been a team that has played much better at home.  All five of their conference wins are at home.  James says they know it will be a tough challenge.  “That is something that most teams will do and with Wooster they are especially tough at home.  They are comfortable and their shooting percentages are up.  All of their statistics and everything about them shows they play better in their own gym.  It makes it tough for us to come in, especially off of a loss if we aren’t mentally ready to go we could really be in trouble here.  It is vital that we be mentally ready as well as physically prepared on a short turnaround,” said James.

          The Tygers are a much improved outside shooting team, but James says they must understand they need to win games with the way they play on defense.  “No matter who our opponent is our effort has to stay consistent.  Shooting wise and things like that are going to go up and down.  Our team is a little different.  We have to be willing to change the game defensively with our defensive pressure.  If we don’t come with a great amount of intensity and effort we can’t change the game defensively and when we don’t do that we leave the game to chance.  For us to be successful we have to come in with a lot of energy and a lot intensity right form the beginning, especially on the road,” he said.  

 

 
 

Tygers Back in First Place

 

          After losing two of their first three Ohio Cardinal Conference games the Mansfield Senior Tygers have strung together six straight conference wins, including a big one Saturday over Lexington, to take a one game lead in the “OCC” standings.

          Tygers coach Effie James says they played well enough to get into position, now they have to play even better to maintain that lead.  “We are a team that is continuing to grow and at that point early in the season I knew with so many young guys that we had the possibility of getting better and I think we have.  Sometimes this league so tough you just never know which way it’s going to fall.  Right now, with quite few games left to play we are still in control of our own destiny.  We have been playing well and at this point the league has come back into our hands.  We just have to make sure that we do our best to continue to improve and really work hard because now we go from the hunter to the hunted,” said James.

          Mansfield had some players come off the bench and make critical contributions during the finals minutes of the (49-45) win over Lexington on Saturday night.  “When you are playing a quality team like Lexington it usually comes down to the little things.  When it came down to it we made a couple of plays down the stretch.  We had some solid ball handling and we had some guys step into positions coming off the bench that really helped us out,” James told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Malon Sammuels came in and I can remember him having a big rebound in the fourth quarter that we had to have.  We had a small lineup in the game and he came in and got a big rebound.  Javonte Myers came in and helped us out on the boards.  We were very solid in our free throw shooting.  All of those little things in a low scoring game where it is hard to score rebounding, free throw shooting and ball handling all become very important.  We were able to be successful in those areas.”

          Ashland (6-8,4-6) will host the Tygers (11-2,7-2) in an “OCC” game on Friday night at Arrow Arena.  The Arrows have been up and down this season, but James believes they will be up to play them.  “I have seen them at their very best and I have not seen them play so well.  I can say you just never know.  The one place as a team that you are more apt to get things together is at home.  We go to their place this week.  They are very, very tough to compete with at home.  We expect them to give us their best game.  I wouldn’t expect anything less form coach Fralick and his staff.  It is going to be tough and we understand that.  We have to go with a mindset of really working hard to try and shut down what they do best.  They are an extremely good three point shooting team.  If we can contest their shots and make sure they only get one shot that’s going to give us the opportunity to win,” said James.  Mansfield Senior won the first game (67-58) on December 30.

          Ashland subs five fresh players every four minutes no matter what is happening in the game at the time.  James says he won’t do that, but believes the Tygers have the depth to play a strong fourth quarter.  “I think everybody has their own way of doing things when it comes to staying fresh.  I believe that we are a deep enough team that we can stay fresh as well.  We may not rotate them in at the same time, but I think we can be equivalent to their freshness.  We have to rotate our guys in and out making sure that that our guys are playing hard and giving maximum effort.  At the end of the game we would like to think our conditioning would shine through and we can execute down the stretch.  Over these last two games we feel like that has been true.  We just want to make sure that happens on Friday night,” said James.     

 

 
 

Senior High Must Take Advantage

 

          Mansfield Senior has not lost in more than a month and the Tygers have now moved back into a share of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Both the Tygers and Lexington are 5-2 in the conference after Mansfield Senior’s win over Madison (64-48) last Saturday and Lexington loss at Orrville (41-40) on Tuesday night.  Mansfield Senior (9-2,5-2) plays at Clear Fork on Friday night and at home against Lexington on Saturday night in conference action.

          Keon Johnson scored 20 points and Mansfield Senior beat the arch rival Rams on Saturday night.  Coach Effie James says they came out and played with a lot of intensity on Saturday.  “It was all about the energy we came into the game with.  We were able to sustain that for the majority of the game.  When we play that way defensively and make things tough and we can force teams into bad shots or get them out of their comfort zone and we can rebound well we can be pretty tough.  I thought we had a real consistent effort Saturday night.  It was good for us to see pretty much two games in a row now,” said James.

          He believes the Tygers are continuing to show improvement now more than halfway through the season.  He says that’s why they are in the position they are now.  “I have always been told as a coach you want to make your last game your best game regardless if you win or lose.  Our goal is to continue to improve every week.  We are in the small stages of starting to show some consistency in our effort and if we can continue that I think we will give ourselves the best chance here down the stretch.” James said.

          Are there things that can still be better with the Tygers?  You bet there are and James says it starts with how they are playing on defense.  “We still have to defensively be able to pressure more teams for longer periods of time.  I think at times we try to go out and control tempo and in other times defensively will play very inconsistent.  As coaches we are really working to improve and work in ways in practice where we have a consistent defensive effort,” he told Swankonsports.com, “There is a difference between just playing good defense and playing defense the way we have to play it to win.  A lot of teams can play good defense and play sound in the half court and feel good about that.  For us I think the only way we can be successful consistently is get out there and play with great energy and great intensity on defense and once we start doing that we will be great team.”

          Mansfield Senior handled Clear Fork (64-46) the first time they played them, but James says the Colts (5-5,2-5) are good enough to be dangerous, especially when they play at home.  “They have played some really good games.  They have lost a few games here.  In those games they have played well and shot the ball very well in a lot of games.  I think their perimeter shooting has improved a lot.  They have a really good player in Ridge Winand.  He can hit open shots.  He can shoot off the dribble.  With him and a lot of the other guys that have shown improvement they are a team that definitely has to be reckoned with especially on their home court,” James said.

          In Lexington’s loss to Orrville on Tuesday their leading scorer, Raseed Brooks, was sidelined with an undisclosed injury.  James says the Minutemen certainly are a different team without him on the floor.  “He is another one the outstanding players in this league.  There are quite few talented individual players, as well as teams.  Raseed is someone you can’t replace.  All teams have a certain degree of that.  I would imagine if Keon or Donavan Benson or one of our main guys on our team weren’t playing I think we would be different as well,” he said.

          James has reminded his players that they are not just playing against Brooks, but the whole Lexington (10-2,5-2) team and they are really good.  “By all means they are still even without Rasheed they are still a quality ball club.  They do a lot of good things and they still have size.  They still have some guys that can shoot the basketball.  They are still tough and very well coached.  Even without Raseed they show a great amount of poise on the floor.  Whether Raseed is involved or not this weekend for us we are going to prepare the same.  We have to prepare to beat a quality ball club.  We have to be prepared to play a team in Lexington not just one player,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior is an athletic team that really gets down the floor.  However, James emphasizes that they have to be more than just runners, they have to be productive too.  “The tempo is very important.  We have to make sure that we are not just playing tempo, but we are executing as well.  A lot of times we get to where we are just running up and down the floor and not getting any production offensively or defensively.  Yes we want to play fast and get them playing in a game that is not a possession by possession game, but at the same time we want to maximize our possessions.  We need to get good shots because when you play Lexington the possessions are going to be shorter.  You are going to have less possessions in the game so you have to take advantage of every possession you get,” said James.   

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Focused on Improvement

 

          Like a distance runner starting his kick the Mansfield Senior Tygers are beginning to get in position to make a run at the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.  They now trail Lexington by just a half game, a game in the loss column.

          Mansfield Senior (8-2,4-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for large schools, was one of the few teams to play last Friday due to the weather.  They beat Orrville (73-45) in an “OCC” game behind a season high 27 points from Keon Johnson.  Head coach Effie James was pleased with the team’s effort.  “We played a solid game from beginning to end.  We played well defensively and offensively we were able to knock down some perimeter shots.  We got rolling early and we were able to sustain that.  Overall I thought all of the guys played well and played within our game plan,” said James.

          With half of the regular season under their belts, James says they have found the right combinations in their lineup now the goal is to be more consistent.  “At this time of year I think most teams are finding out what’s good for them.  What they should be doing and what they shouldn’t be doing.  Playing time is starting to work its way out.  A lot of teams, not just ours, are getting better and finding their way.  We are trying to gain some consistency because we have played well at times in a lot of different situations, but we have also played not so well.  We are trying to find that consistency and play well throughout the game rather than just in stretches,” said James.

          The Tygers do not have the overall size, especially at the guard spots, that they have had in some other years, but James says they have done a really good job of getting on the boards.  “We have to rebound well.  We have to be a hard working team because we are a bit undersized, especially with our guards.  It takes hard work for us to compete on the boards on most nights because most nights we are undersized.  The guys have done a great job of understanding that and understanding that we can’t make every night a jumping match,” James told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have to make it about positioning and going after the basketball and showing some aggressiveness.  For the most part we have done okay.  There have been a couple of games where we have been out rebounded, but for the most part we have done a good job.  In the games we haven’t have been the ones where we have struggled.”

          On Friday night, the Tygers complete the first round of “OCC” play with a visit to Wooster (4-5,3-2) in a battle between two of the second place teams.  James says the Generals shoot very well in their own gym.  “They are a talented team and coach Martin does an outstanding job coaching them.  One thing about Wooster that we know from experience is that they are going to play well at home.  Going on the road to Wooster is going to be a tough challenge for us.  They shoot it very, very well at home.  They are a team that has won games in this league and on the road in this league.  They are battle tested and have played a tough schedule.  We have to come into there place and be more focused and match and exceed their energy,” said James.

          The second round begins on Saturday night as the arch rival Madison Rams (4-4,3-2) come to Pete Henry Gym.  Madison won the first match-up (66-65) in overtime in early December.  James says there are no secrets with the Rams.  “We aren’t too concerned about getting the kids ready to play on Saturday.  We are channeling our focus towards Wooster on Friday night.  They are last team we haven’t played yet in the league.  We don’t know as much about them.  We aren’t overly concerned about what Madison is going to do.  Doug and I have battling each other for a few years now.  I think he knows what our teams are going to do and we pretty much know what Madison is going to do.  It has always been about who executes and makes plays down the stretch,” said James.  

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Has to Stay in Position

 

          Mansfield Senior may have benefited a little bit form the loss of first place Lexington last week, but not that much, and they need to keep winning to have any chance to claim a part of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          Last week, the Tygers outlasted West Holmes (73-64 in overtime) and they share second place with Mansfield Madison and Wooster, a game behind Lexington.

          Guards Keon Johnson of Mansfield Senior and Brady Arnold of West Holmes each scored 26 points, but it was the Tygers that made the key plays in the end.  “It was great for us to go in and get a win on the road.  West Holmes was a very quality team.  They put up a great fight in their home gym.  We were able to make some plays down the stretch to get the win,” said Mansfield Senior coach Effie James.

          After December losses to Madison and Lexington, the Tygers have been able to remain in contact with the rest of the league with some good, solid play.  “We have been able, for the most part, to play well in most of our games.  When we look back at our two losses this year we can look at not handling a situation like we should have and that has cost us.  We work on those situations in practice and try to get better and continue to improve as a team.  We are very pleased with the way we have played.  We just have to get better in certain aspects of the game with some time in practice,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior (7-2,3-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for larger schools, will host long time nemesis Orrville in an “OCC” game on Friday night.  Orrville (1-7,1-4) is in last place in the league, but James says they still have a lot of talent.  “Again they are a quality team.  Their record certainly doesn’t show their talent level or how good they are.  They have probably lost four or five of those games by three or four points or so.  I did watch them against Norwayne and they are a tough team.  They are going to present some issues for us with their size and with the athletic ability,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have to be ready to play and again this league is tough.  A team like Orrville when you watch them play you can see they are a quality team and they have one win in the league.  That is a testament to how good this league is.  They are going to come in confident and feel they can get a win and we are going to have to play one our best games to beat them.”

          Orrville does have 6-10 Devon Winters in the post and James says he is a big factor defensively and this year has been able to give the Red Riders some scoring in the post.   “Defensively he has always been tough for them in the last couple of years.  With that size he is able to alter shots and really alter what you want to do offensively.  Even if you play great and execute well offensively you still have to get it over a guy 6-10.  He does a very good job of blocking shots away from his man.  This year he has become better offensively.  He can actually catch the ball in the post and finish.  He plays quite a bit above the rim.  He is going to present some challenges for us along with Brenner, who is very athletic.  He is another guy that plays above the rim for them.  They have an experienced bunch of guards that play well and handle the ball solid.  We want to impose our tempo and do the things we want to do and that’s going to be pretty tough,” said James.

          With Lexington coming back to the league a little bit after their loss to Ashland, James says they have to continue to play well and they can end up being there at the end for a chance at the title.  “Like I said before we felt like from the beginning no one was going to go undefeated in this league.  It’s just too hard to win every game.  To win on the road is going to be tough in this league.  We told our kids right after we took that second loss to Lexington that no one was going to go undefeated and we were just going to have to try an improve and if the league falls back in our lap we just have to be playing well enough to get the wins.  Our focus right now is to be playing better each game and if we play as well as we can we think the wins will come and with that will be us being able to compete for a league championship,” said James.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Girls Searching

 

          Mansfield Senior has lost its last four games and the Lady Tygers need to get their act together pretty quickly if they are to have the kind of season that their talent dictates.

          Head coach Todd Krill says their play has been too spotty on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor to be successful and win games.  “I think the biggest thing that is causing us to take a dip is we are not consistent in our offense or our defense.  We sometimes play very good defense, but all of time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Sometimes we play very good offense and then we start throwing the ball away.  If you look at the stats we are scoring with teams, but we have too many turnovers.  We are throwing the ball away at a critical time.  We have somebody drive all of the way to whole and not take care of it or make a charge.  It’s been a lot of things, but a lot of what it is being inconsistent with our offense and defense.”

          With Wooster unbeaten in the league and the Lady Tygers with five losses (4-8,2-5) the focus of the season has changed to the postseason tournament.  Krill says their first goal is to grab that number one seed.  “We thought coming into the year we would have a shot at a number one seed.  Right now, we are fighting probably Ashland for a number one seed here.  They have really improved.  At the same time our girls have to start saying we have to work a little bit harder and getting ourselves better.  We are not taking a lot of things from practice and doing them in ballgames.  We just have to get better at it,” Krill said.

          That process beings when Mansfield Senior plays host to Mansfield Madison (3-8,1-6) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Thursday night.  On December 8 the Lady Tygers won the first match-up (64-44) at Madison.  “It was one of our better games of the year.  Right now, Madison is fighting some injures, which has hurt them.  Molea Thompson is out with her knee injury and that hurts them a little bit because she was their leading scorer at the time she went out.  They are trying to find a person that can run their offense and take control out there,” said Krill.

          It is going to come down to effort, according to Krill, when the two teams get together for the second time this season at Pete Henry.  “I still believe they play real hard and being a Madison-Mansfield Senior game it doesn’t matter what the records are you can throw them out the door because both teams are going to go at it pretty hard and try and get a win.  We have to make sure we are ready to go and play extremely hard,” said Krill.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Facing a Tough West Holmes Team

 

          Mansfield Senior needs to keep pace with Lexington or perhaps pick up at game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings, but that won’t be easy as they travel to West Holmes to play the improving Knights on Friday night.

          Ashland came to Pete Henry gym last week and tested the Tygers in an “OCC” game.  The Tygers won (67-58) behind 26 points from Keon Johnson, but they also got some production off the bench as Antonio Sanderfer scored nine points.  “We are hoping that our guys that were able to give us good minutes this past weekend can step up and help us more this coming week,” said Mansfield Senior coach Effie James.

          Mansfield Senior (6-2,2-2) is in a five-way tie for second place in the “OCC” standings, two games behind Lexington.  James says they have to continue to play like they have been or get better.  “We are coming up on the midway point of the season and we just want to be playing more consistently and consistently improving.  You don’t want to be taking steps back as a team.  That’s my main concern right now is I don’t want to take any steps back.  As a team we have gotten to where we are a consistent rebounding team.  We have gotten to where we have played some good defense in spots.  We just want to continue to improve.  You have to start finding out who you are as a team and start to expect certain things from each game,” said James.

          West Holmes (4-3,2-2) is also among that group of teams in second place in the conference heading into play this weekend.  James says they are talented and growing in confidence each time they play.  He says they have one of the league’s best players in point guard Brady Arnold.  “Brady Arnold is an outstanding talent.  He has unlimited range and is very quick and can create his own shot.  He presents some issues for us defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Also they have guys inside.  Snyder is an outstanding post player.  He can step out and hit the 15 foot shot or drive to the basket.  They have some really talented players that have went thought their lumps as freshmen and sophomores.  Now it is really starting to show how that experience has helped them and they are trying to get the pay off now.  They looked very, very tough at this point of the season.  They are going to give us match-up problems right from the beginning.”

          Like in most games they play within the “OCC” tempo is going to be a factor for the Tygers in this game.  James says West Holmes can play fast, but his team certainly wants the Knights to try and keep up with them.  “They have the ability and the personnel to play either way.  They are big and strong enough that if you want to play a half court game they have the guys to do that, but they are also athletic enough they can get out and run.  The game we saw them play Tuesday night against River View they got out and pressed the whole game.  They ran in transition and looked very good and looked comfortable.  They subbed eight or nine guys into the ball game.  They can play in different ways they are not a team that really has to play a certain way.  For us tempo is important because our best play is when the tempo is high.  If we can get the tempo to be high and execute on both ends of the floor I think that will best suit us this week,” said James.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Has to be Productive

 

           After a loss last week to Lexington, Mansfield Senior might have to run the table if they are going to get a piece of the Ohio Cardinal Conference basketball title this season.

          After leading at halftime, Mansfield Senior was outscored 24-14 in the third quarter and lost at Lexington (73-61) last Friday, dropping their second game in three league contests this season.  Tygers coach Effie James says they ended up playing Lexington’s kind of game and it was going to be very tough for them to win doing that.  “We knew coming in that we would have to play a certain way and we didn’t play that way.  We knew if we didn’t dictate tempo, get out and really give them a lot of pressure, we could be in trouble.  I think we played the way we wanted to play for a small amount of time, but we just didn’t get it done.  They are a very good team.  If you play at their tempo and their style it’s going to be tough to beat them.  We came up short and didn’t play as well as we could.  We have to recognize that they are a quality team as well,” said James.

          Trailing Lexington by two games in the conference standings, Mansfield Senior might have to win their final 11 games to have a chance to get part of the conference title.  James says it is up to them.  “When it comes to a conference title and us getting off to somewhat of a slow start as far as wins and losses go in the conference.  It’s important for us to keep in mind we have to continue to get better.  What this conference and this race has shown for years past is that you just have to play as the season goes on.  At the end of the year if the conference race comes back our way we just have to be playing good enough basketball to take advantage of that and possibly craw back into the race,” he said.

          Ashland (2-3,1-2) comes to Pete Henry Gym for a game on Friday night in “OCC” action.  The Arrows were just 2-19 last season, but James says they are significantly better than they were last year.  “They are a team that has a great amount of experience coming back.  Coach Fralic is doing a great job of getting his guys to play tough and be competitive in games.  When you have that type of experience coming back and you learn a lot during that first year you are going to be better.  They are going to be a challenge for us to get back on the winning side when it comes to conference games,” James told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          Outside shooting is one of the Arrows most impressive skills and James says they have to make sure they get out and guard the Ashland shooters on Friday night.  “We just have to do a good job of keeping them off the three point line, not giving them second shots and again getting out and controlling the transition.  They are an athletic team.  They have quite a few guys that played on their football team out for basketball, so they have some tremendous athletes and we have to control what they do well as well as play to our strengths at the same time,” he said.

          Many times games with Mansfield Senior become a battle for tempo because they want to play faster than any team they are playing.  James says that might not be the case against the Arrows.  “I will tell you last year playing against coach Fralic’s teams that it was different.  A lot times we come into games, conference games in particular, where we really try to force tempo and force teams to play faster because we can get them out of their comfort zone.  It’s a better game for us.  Against Ashland, both times, they came out are really ran the floor against us.  When we played at their place last year it was an up and down game.  They really pushed the tempo and it really worked out well for them.  We just have to make sure of the two teams that are playing fast that we are being the most productive.  As long as we can get that done and not just run up and down the floor with empty possessions I think it will do us well,” said James.     

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Can Get One

 

          Mansfield Senior faces another tough road test as they travel to defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Lexington for big game on Friday night.

          So far, Mansfield Senior (5-1) has lost only in overtime at rival Mansfield Madison two weeks ago.  They beat Clear Fork (64-46) and Sandusky (61-60) in games played last weekend.  Coach Effie James says they continue to work hard and it’s paying off.  “We hope we can continue to improve in ways that we need to improve.  Winning games is a by product of our kids taking a hold of the game plan and executing it.  We just want to continue to get better that way and I think the wins will come,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior is a little vertically challenged this year, but they have outrebounded most of their early season opponents.  James says they must continue to improve that part of their game.  “Rebounding is always going to be a key for us.  We have had some success this year in our games and I think is because of our kid’s hard work at it.  We have really harped on it since the beginning of the year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That being said we still have to be able to make that a constant in our game, especially this week when we play a team that is going to outsize us at every position.  The majority of their offense is built on offensive rebounding.  We must work on getting them just one shot and just as hard at getting us extra shots.”

          Lexington, while certainly not methodical in their approach to the game, does not have the same willingness to run the floor as the Tygers do.  However, James says getting the tempo in their favor won’t be easy.  “Every team they have played I am sure has wanted to get the tempo in their favor and do what we are trying to do, but it has not worked for them.  It’s going to be a challenge for us to do that.  Rebounding is key for us.  Defensively we have to stop them form getting extra shots and we have to be able to trigger our transition game,” he said.   

          Colin Michael was Lexington’s leading scorer, with 25 points, in their 69-62 win over Madison last week.  James says there is no question he is a difference maker for the Minutemen.  “He adds a kid inside that number one can score on the interior and to go along with Rasheed Brooks, who has an outstanding perimeter game.  Colin gives them great balance.   For us, or anyone that plays them, you have to limit their easy baskets.  Colin and Rasheed both are good enough to create and get shots on their own.  We have to make sure we limit their easy baskets by not losing them defensively and allowing them to get easy looks and lay ups,” said James.

          Yes a win will be important for Mansfield Senior on Friday night, but James says this early it is not critical.  “It is not make or break this early in the season.  We certainly want to go out and play well and get the win, but at the same respect Lexington won the league last year with two losses and I think a couple of years ago the league was won with three losses.  This league is going to be tough and I don’t think anyone is going to get through unbeaten.  It is important that we go out and play as well as we can, especially try to steal one on the road,” said James.    

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Must Defend Home

 

          Mansfield Senior certainly has the talent, and the intent, to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference title this season and to do that they need to have a win over visiting Clear Fork on Friday night.

          After losing their first “OCC” game on the road at Mansfield Madison on Friday night (66-65 in overtime) the Tygers rebounded to beat Lima Senior (87-60) in a non-conference game on Saturday night at Lima.  Senior High coach Effie James was impressed by well his team got back after it on Saturday night.  “We were able to do a lot of things well that we struggled with the previous night.  With the young team it was nice to see us take some lessons from a tough loss and put them directly into action.  We were pleased overall from our first week, which we had four games in the first seven days,” said James.

          Mansfield Senior has been very good at getting down the floor in transition, but they have given up some easy hoops too.  James says this week in practice they have been trying to instill in the kids that they have to get some stops.  “The biggest thing we worked on this week was our transition defense, just not giving teams easy baskets.  When we reviewed the film of all our first four games we just felt like we left teams off the hook with cheap baskets a lot of the time,” James told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Specifically against Madison we looked back at the transition lay ups and the uncontested shots we gave up that really could have changed the outcome considering we lost by one point.  We really honed in on those things this week.  We also worked on situational play and how to play with a lead, how to play from behind, we just got into real game situations.  We worked on how to train our young players to deal with those situations.”

          Pete Henry Gym plays host to the Clear Fork Colts (2-1), who have never beaten the Tygers in an “OCC” game.  James says this is not a game they can overlook.  “Clear Fork is going to be a quality team and they are well coached.  Coach Bechtel does a great job with those guys year in and year out.  We are going to have to play a very solid game in order to compete and win.  We have to dictate tempo and take them a little bit out of their comfort zone.  They certainly have some quality players that are capable of scoring and changing the game in that way.  It’s going to be a challenge for us on Friday night.  We look at all of our conference games as mini championship games.  In this league you can not afford to fall too far behind.”

          Lexington beat Clear Fork (48-29) in their first conference game last week, so a win by both sides in vital if they entertain any hopes of winning a conference title this winter.  “I think for both teams it’s important that we get in the win column as it relates to the conference standings.  With the league being as tough as it is you can not afford to fall too far behind early.  Certainly you need to take care of your home court.  This is our first conference game at home.  We have responsibility in our eyes to take care of home court and that way we can somewhat control our own destiny coming down the stretch,” said James.

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Must Find a Way

 

          Mansfield Senior will be the latest team to try and slow down Randa Payne and the machine that is Mansfield St. Peter’s when the two schools clash in a non-conference girls’ basketball game on Wednesday night at the Franciscan Activities Center at St. Peter’s High School.

          The Lady Tygers (2-2) are coming off maybe their best performance of the season when they drilled rival Madison 64-44 last Thursday night in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  Coach Todd Krill says they accomplished just about everything that was written on the scouting report against Madison.   “We went into the game and we decided we had to do certain things like rebound really well and do a little better job at making decisions with the ball.  We wanted to get down and play really solid defense.  We hoped if we did that we could come out with a win.  We did all three of those things and we did walk out with a win,” he said.

          Payne, a junior at St. Peter’s and an all-state performer her sophomore year, is averaging 34.6 PPG after a 42 point outburst last week at Buckeye Central, which established a new Lady Spartans record for points in a single game.  Krill knows what they are up against.  “She has had some really fantastic scoring games this year and we will have to work hard at slowing her down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Try to put her into a half court game and hopefully she doesn’t get out in transition and get open in the transition game.  That’s one our keys going into Wednesday night to try to slow her down, if that is possible.  She is a very good shooter from the outside.”  In her game against Buckeye Central Payne made 14of 21 shots from the field including seven of 10 three pointers.  Krill says you have to rotate quickly to have a chance to stop her.  “She does a very good job of coming off screens and getting herself open.  One thing is when she comes off screens or someone makes the extra pass out to her she is ready to score.  That’s what makes a very good scorer is to have the hands ready and the feet ready to shoot the ball or be able to penetrate,” he said.

          What Mansfield Senior has been able to do is get a different player every night or a number of players the same night to share the scoring load.  Krill says that has been one of their biggest goals all season long.  “That has been a real key for us.  We want to force the other team to have to guard all five girls we have on the floor.  We also want to keep a balance from the inside to the outside.  In the first couple games we did well.  The third game against Shelby we just didn’t shoot the ball very well.  In the Madison game it seemed like it came back together again.  If we keep the balance from the inside and the outside we can shoot the ball very well,” said Krill.

          Similar to the last week’s game against Madison, the Lady Tygers are going to have to be the better team in full court situations.  They need to get some steals from their pressure and not give it up a bunch when being pressed by the Lady Spartans.  “Going into this game we have seen different presses this year.  We have seen diamond ones and half court presses.  I think our kids are ready to go against full court pressure and half court pressure.  It’s just a matter of executing and doing what we are supposed to do. You know, looking up the floor to see if someone is open,” said Krill

 

 
 

Mansfield Senior Looking For a Steal

 

          It appears Mansfield Senior, Madison and Lexington are the major contenders for the Ohio Cardinal Conference basketball title and Friday night two of them meet as the Tygers travel to Mansfield Madison to face the rival Rams.

          Senior High has two impressive non-conference wins to its credit this year already beating Toledo Scott (75-59) last Saturday and downing Massillon Perry (82-71) on Tuesday night, both at Pete Henry Gym.  Mansfield Senior coach Effie James was pleased with the way they came out and played against Perry.  “The kids came out and played well.  We shot the ball well from the perimeter.  We were able to get some things done as far as rebounding and a lot things we really stressed before the game.  Everything worked out and we were able to beat a quality team again,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior is not as big as they have been in some other years, but the Tygers are really going to the boards hard.  James says that has to continue for them to keep winning.  “They have done a good job in the first two games, but that is one of those things that has be a constant in your program and they have to realize from game to game that those are things we have to do.  A lot of times when you are playing teams that are out of league they don’t prepare for you in that way.  So, going into league play we are going to have to stress it even more because teams are going to play a lot of different styles,” James said.

          Madison lost their first game last Friday night at Shelby (68-57) in overtime.  However, James knows the Rams are loaded with talent.  “I think they are a very talented team.  They play extremely hard and Doug always has them ready to play.  Their place has always been tough for us.  We have always played very erratic over there.  That’s because of how hard they play and their fans and that, so it’s going to be a challenge for us to go over and try to get some things done,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I think these guys are up to the challenge.  Like I said we played two quality teams, but Madison is going to bring their own unique challenges for us.  They have a couple of real quality individual players.  The way they shoot the ball from the perimeter can cause some problems for us.”

          Both Mansfield Senior and Madison like to push the tempo and feature a lot of defensive pressure.  James says it’s going to be about execution.  “It comes down to that in most league games, but against Madison you are going to have to execute defensively and offensively.  Offensively they are going to do some things and try to do a lot of things to score off their defense.  We have to try and force our will on them.  That has been the battle for us for years, the last few years at least.  We just have to be prepared to play our game.  And not get caught up in trying to defend what they do as much as we are trying to force our will on them,” he said.

          If you are going to win a league title you have to protect your home floor and then steal some on the road.  James hopes they can go to Madison Friday night and get away with the prize jewels.  “Playing our first league game at our rival it’s going to be tough, but again trying to steal one on the road, especially early in league play will be a great advantage to us.  The way we approach league games is each one is like a championship game and the way the league is this year you can’t afford to drop many of them or before you know it you will be out of the race.  This is the first championship game in a series of 14,” said James.  

 

 
 

Lady Tygers Want to Get Back on the Floor

 

          Mansfield Senior has not played in over a week and they really want to get back on the floor and prove what kind of team they can be.  They get their chance on Thursday night when they face rival Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          The Lady Tygers (1-2) have played some good competition this year so far, losing to two of the best teams in the Northern Ohio League in Bellevue (65-56) and Shelby (75-49), their win this year comes over Marion Harding (53-31) in the consolation game of the Bucyrus tip-off classic.  “Except for the Shelby game I have been pretty happy with they way the girls have been playing.  They have been practicing real hard.  We are just trying to get the chemistry down.  I think we just need some playing time on the floor rather than going against ourselves all of the time.  We played three games in five days and then we set for eight days waiting to play a game, so we are hoping with can get into some type of rhythm,” said Mansfield Coach Todd Krill.

          Younger players are getting a lot of playing time this season for the Lady Tygers and coach Krill says they have to absorb a lot of things very quickly.  “We are kind of hoping our younger girls will step up and learn real quick what we are trying to do offensively and defensively.  We have been pretty pleased with them so far in what we are trying to accomplish.  We’ve had good practices since after the Shelby game.  We are hoping those strong practices help us on Thursday night,” said Krill.

          Madison (2-2) lost a high scoring game to Loudonville (77-73) on Tuesday night breaking a two game winning streak for the Lady Rams.  “They started two freshmen last year.  Those freshmen have become sophomores.  They are getting good leadership Moela Thompson.  I think she scored 30 points Tuesday night in their ball game with Loudonville.  They have Hannah Kochis.  I think she is their true leader.  She has been playing well.  They all have been playing pretty good.  I think both teams are trying to develop some chemistry,” added Krill.

          The press, and who executes it the best, is likely going to determine who wins this game at Wayne E. Miller Gym on Thursday night.  “That is what the key is,” Krill told Swankonsports.com, “I have been talking to our people it’s going to come down to who executes best.  It’s not like there are many secrets between us.  We know their personnel and they probably know our personnel.  We kind of know what they run and they know what we run.  So, it’s just a matter of how well you execute.”

 

 
 

 

Mansfield Senior Understanding

           Mansfield Senior played pretty well in its first game of the season and that’s because the players are understanding what they have to do to win basketball games, which may be different than it was in the past.

          The Tygers got off to a good start and went on to beat an athletic Toledo Scott 75-59 at Pete Henry Gym on Saturday night.  “We were able to do some things that we talked about throughout the week.  We had to slow down their transition.  Our kids did a great job of carrying out the game plan.  We just tried to stick to a couple of different keys, which was stopping their transition and limiting their offensive rebounds.  Our kids shot fairly well.  We had some guys shoot it well from the perimeter.  The kids played well from the beginning and for at last three and half quarters,” said Mansfield Senior coach Effie James.

          Mansfield Senior does not have the height they have had in some other years and the players know they have to work to get on the glass.  “It tells me that our kids really understand and are grasping how important that aspect of the game is.  Even though we were much smaller than they were we out rebounded them by two.  For us that’s a huge accomplishment.  If we can do that in our ball games, if we stay close on the boards, I think we are going to give ourselves a chance every time,” James said.

          It will be another tough game for the Tygers on Tuesday night as Massillon Perry comes calling.  “Again they are going to be a team with tremendous size on the perimeter and inside.  They have a couple of good athletes.  I know in their game Saturday, they had one young man score almost 30 points and a couple other guys in double figures,” James told Swankonsports.com, “They present another great challenge for us.  Again the key for us is to stick to our game plan and do what we can do and stick to our strengths.  If we do that I think we will have a chance against anyone.”

          After playing Scott last Saturday, Perry Tuesday night, and then Lima Senior on Saturday, the Tygers play an aggressive non-conference schedule and James believes that pays off in the long run.  “We go out and try and find the best competition we can.  I think year in and year out, toward the end of the season, we really start reaping the benefits of those games.  The first week for us is going to be tough.  I think in the end the idea in basketball in high school, since we all get into the tournament, is to just get better.  I think these tough early games really help us out in that way,” said James.

 

 
   

Mansfield Senior Must Do Little Things

 

          Mansfield Senior is almost always among the better boys’ basketball teams in the North Central Ohio area and this year should b no different, but they may have to do it in different ways.

          Tygers coach Effie James says he has liked the dedication and spirit that he has seen from his players during practice and preseason challenges so far this season.  “I do like our progress so far we have made some great strides from the beginning of this off season until now.  I think with every game, whether it be preseason or regular season, our guys, as young as we are, are going to take something from each experience.  Our kids have responded well to some varsity action,” said James.

          However, games are different from scrimmages, and James understands this.  He is a little concerned on if his players can take what they do well in practice and do it well in the game.  “We have prepared hard for what we are going to see.  In our case we are going to see an extremely athletic team in Toledo Scott.  Our practices have been geared around high intensity, handling pressure and playing fast.  What concerns me is when Saturday actually gets here and we have to perform, will out young guys perform with the lights on.  It’s a matter of if they can take their practice habits into the game,” said James.

          Rebounding has been something that Mansfield Senior has been traditionally very good at, especially being able to out rebound an opponent on the offensive glass.  “First and foremost we are going to have to find a way to rebound the basketball.  I think in years past we have been able to get away with just being more athletic than a lot of other teams.  In this case we are quite a bit undersized,” James told Swankonsports.com, “What I told out team is we have to be good at the little things.  You know, boxing out every single time, possessing the basketball and not trying do so much on athletic ability.  Time will tell if we can do that.  I think we feel that’s they way we can be successful is just doing the little things and being a tough team.  We have to be a workman like group,” said James.

          Toledo Scott, like Mansfield Senior, has a tremendous reputation for very good basketball and this year should be just more of the same for the Bulldogs.  “As coaches we are going to get a look at them on Friday night, but they are going to be extremely athletic.  They are extremely fast.  In the past their athletes were very long.  This year they have a number of dynamite players that have really played well this preseason.  They don’t have great, great size.  They have taller guards in the 6-2, 6-3 range.  They have some depth.  They play nine or ten guys,” James said.

 

 
   

Mansfield Senior Gets Another Test

 

          Mansfield Senior split its first two games of the high school girls’ basketball season in the Bucyrus Tip-off classic, losing to Bellevue and beating Marion Harding.  Tuesday night, they travel to Shelby to meet the talented Lady Whippets.

          The Lady Tygers led Northern Ohio league favorite Bellevue 22-8 after the first quarter last Friday night, only to fall 65-56.  The Lady Red out rebounded Mansfield Senior 33-25 led by 10 from All-Ohio forward Leslie Raifsnider.  She also led Bellevue with 29 points.  “We started off with a very tough team in Bellevue.  A lot of people are picking them to win the “NOL” and do extremely well in the tournament.  We still have got things we need to work on.  In the Marion game we did a real good job of putting pressure on them.  We still need to improve and that is going to be our main goal,” said Mansfield Senior coach Todd Krill.  On Saturday night, the Lady Tygers out rebounded Marion Harding 46-29, led by 11 from Jeryn Reese.  They also forced 21 turnovers from the Lady Presidents.

          In their first two games Mansfield Senior made 42 percent of their field goals.  Krill would like to see them run their offense better and being more consistent on the offensive glass.  “Probably the biggest thing we have to do is being more consistent working against zone defenses.  You know, getting our posts and perimeter on the same page and doing a better job of recognizing what’s open,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Secondly, on one night we didn’t rebound offensively very well and the next night we did a tremendous job.  We have to get a little more consistent with our offensive rebounding.”

          Tuesday night, Mansfield Senior will be at Shelby (2-0) to battle the Lady Whippets, who beat Plymouth (75-33) and Ashland (60-51) over the weekend.  Emma Hostetler, Shelby’s junior point guard, poured in 20 against Plymouth and 17 more against Ashland.  Krill knows that she is the hub of the Shelby offense.  “You can not let Emma Hostetler go crazy on you.  You have to get her under control.  You have to keep real good pressure on her, make her have to make decisions with the ball, shooting or passing the ball.  I think if we can do a pretty good job in holding her down in scoring.  She is a very good player and sometimes good ball players get theirs one way or the other,” said Krill.

          Krill also understands that they can not concentrate too much on Hostetler because the Lady Whippets have other players that can make shots.  “This is a pretty balanced Shelby team this year.  They have some other girls that can shoot it pretty good from the outside.  The (Katelyn) Strine girl, the (Jennifer) Grove girl, and the (Devon) Murray girl all had excellent games against Ashland.  They all scored in double figures, so they have other girls that can score.  You really have to defend your position on the floor,” said Krill.  

 

 
   

Mansfield Senior Perfecting What They are Good at

 

          Mansfield Senior boys’ basketball teams have always been good at two things rebounding the basketball and stealing it from the other team.  Those are elements of the game they are working on during the preseason.

          The Tygers are halfway through their scrimmages so far this month and coach Effie James has seen some improvement in his young players, as Mansfield Senior will be playing a lot of sophomores on the varsity this year.  “They are doing pretty well at this point.  There is so much learning going on.  Right now, it’s not just learning it, but being able to implement what you learn in those high pressure situations that go with varsity basketball.  They are yet to be tested in that way.  We have had a couple of scrimmages and they are getting better and progressing in a way that we coaches are happy with right now,” he said.

          Sometimes Mansfield Senior has to travel a good distance to find quality competition for one of the better division one programs in this part of the state.  James says they want to get good competition before the regular season begins.  “Now is the time if you are going to get beat up on.  You can show your kids how for they need to improve.  I’ve always thought the better teams you scrimmage the better prepared your team will be.  Sometimes you can get a false sense of how good you are unless you scrimmage some really talented teams.  We try to search out those teams,” he told Swankonsports.com.

          Mansfield Senior has always been a very good rebounding team, especially on the offensive end, getting a lot of stick backs.  They also thrive in an up tempo style when they can create lots of turnovers.  “Number one for us is rebounding and making sure we are solid on the boards defensively and offensively.  The next thing is our transition defense.  We are really, really trying to limit easy baskets from our opponents.  If we can do that we can be successful.  If we can take those aspects of game from our opponents,” said James.

          Over the last couple of years outside shooting has been a struggle for the Tygers.  This year might be a different story for Mansfield Senior because they have some kids that have shown the potential.  “So far it’s not too bad.  It’s something that has gotten better than it’s been in the past.  Perimeter shooting is one of those things what even the best shooting teams can have bad nights.  It’s not something we are going to count on, but it is nice to have the potential to be a perimeter shooting team and that’s what we have this year,” said James.  

 

 
   

Mansfield Senior Has Talent to Be Contender

 

          Last season was a tough one for the Mansfield Senior Lady Tygers as they finished three games under .500 and in the bottom half of the tough Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          It was an injury plagued season a year ago for the Lady Tygers.  Star Rachel Mahan spent most of the year on the shelf and the team struggled to find scoring without her.

          This year, coach Todd Krill believes will be a much better one for Mansfield Senior.  “We are defiantly looking to contend for the “OCC” title and looking for a long tournament run.  We have a lot of girls that are still young, but they are experienced girls because they picked up a lot of playing time due to the injuries that we had last year,” said Krill.

          Being able to score from both the inside as well as the outside is a key to an outstanding girls’ basketball team and Krill thinks they have that potential.  “This is maybe the first time we have had some balance.  There for a while we were strong inside.  This year we can be strong on the inside and strong on the outside.  We have pretty good balance with the girls we have this year.  We can do some things both inside and out,” he told Swankonsports.com.

          The Lady Tygers are going to be athletic as usual, but Krill says they have to cut down on their turnovers if they are going to be the team he believes they can be.  “A big thing that we need to do is cut down on turnovers and take all of the basics and just do them better.  I look at us as being an experienced team.  We want to be better at the basics and keep increasing ourselves to another level,” said Krill.

          Like every other coach in the conference, Krill knows that if you are going to be able to claim the title, you have to be able beat West Holmes and that isn’t going to be easy.   “Every year it’s West Holmes.  Right now, the “OCC” is running through West Holmes.  We just have to get ready to play them.  Maybe we can get them this year.  They have some good, young talent.  They have a real good girl that’s probably a division one prospect in the Snyder girl,” said Krill.

 

 
   

Mansfield Senior to Feature Some Young Kids

 

          If Mansfield Senior is to get the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title back from Lexington they are going to do it with a lot of sophomores on the court.

          More times than not Tyger basketball players that are in the 10th grade or lower spend most of their time playing junior varsity basketball, but that might be a little different this year.  “This year’s crew is not unlike a lot of the crews we have had here.  We aren’t that big, we lost Devon Benson this last year to graduation.  He represented all of the size we had.  We have some really good young guys who really play a lot of basketball.  There are sophomores that are going to be able to step in and compete for some playing time on the varsity level this year and that’s a little different for us.  We don’t usually play many freshmen and sophomores,” said Mansfield Senior basketball coach Effie James.

          The Tygers have always been an up tempo type of team that features pressure and getting down the floor for easy opportunities and that isn’t going to change this season.  However, James told Swankonsports.com on Monday, that when they are in half court situations their personnel will force some tweaks in what they do.  “”We try to spin what we do to our talent.  We are still going to try and get up and down the floor.  We are still going to try and pressure people defensively.  Those have been staples of our program for years.  Those are things that are going to be in place as long as I am here.  In other respects we are going to change some of the things we do as far as what we do in our half court sets,” he said.

          A lot of the Tygers points traditionally come off steals or fast break situations, but James believes they have the potential at least to be able to put some kids on the floor that can shoot the rock.  “We have the potential to be a much improved perimeter shooting team.  A lot of times that’s a weakness for us, but this year we have some young guys who are very good shooters from the perimeter.  We have some guys that score inside too.  For us it’s about defense turning into offense and forcing teams to play out of their comfort zone and score in transition,” said James.

          This fall the “OCC” was very competitive in football with everyone having a chance to win on any night.  James thinks that basketball might just be the same way.  He thinks it will be more competitive than it was last year.  “This year the league has so much talent, a lot of individual talent.  This league is very, very tough.  I even think that top to bottom we will be better this year.  West Holmes, for example, has some really good young players.  We just hope to be in that mix and compete for a league title.  Lexington is the champ until somebody changes that,” he said.   

 

 
   

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