Mansfield Girls Still Undefeated on the Court
Hornets Beat Lady Panthers 46-43
Tensions ran high in Franklin Wednesday, Feb. 9, as two superb undefeated teams faced each other for the first time this season.
From the players to the coaches to the sizable crowd gathered at Franklin High, everyone could feel the pressure. With the right to remain unbeaten on the line, both teams played their hearts out. Mansfield came out on top in an exhilarating, brutal and very physical game, winning by a score of 46 to 43.
From the opening tip off, it looked like it was going to be Franklin’s night. The Panthers scored early and often, with their defense holding the Hornets to just a field goal in the game’s first four minutes. It was a total team effort by Franklin, who saw eight different players score throughout the night. Though Mansfield was able to narrow the gap to win the first quarter, by halftime the Panthers had built up a 27-19 lead.
If the Hornets had any doubts after the second quarter, they were gone by the start of the second half.
“We felt very positive at halftime, even down by eight,” said Mansfield Coach Mike Redding, “We knew if we stayed aggressive and stopped double teaming we could take it.”
The plan worked. The Hornets held the Panthers to just five points in the third quarter, while taking the lead with three minutes left.
The final eleven minutes of the game were an intense showcase of skills on both sides of the ball. As the end approached the game saw five lead changes, several strategically called time outs and even more fouls, all evidence of the immense amount of pressure on both teams.
Franklin tied the game on a jump shot with 29 seconds left. Mansfield worked their way down the court, and with the shot clock nearing zero, Hornet’s junior center Colleen Copley hit a jump shot with 5.7 seconds left to take the lead. That was enough for Mansfield, who remain undefeated after the win.
Both coaches agreed that Copley held the difference in the game, scoring 23 points and providing a sizable threat on defense. “Copley dominated us on the boards,” said Franklin Coach John Leighton. “Rebounding was the key tonight.”
Sophomore Alicia Kutil led the Panthers with 13 points.
Leighton added, “We played really well tonight, we just could have finished better down the line.”
“Tonight our senior leadership really came through,” said Redding. “To have two undefeateds this late in the season is great. Tonight proved that the level of girl’s basketball is very good, very physical.”
Coach Leighton agreed, “The kids were really excited to play, it’s a good rivalry.”
One thing is for certain: it is sure to be another thrilling game when the two teams meet again in Mansfield next Tuesday.