The Mansfield High girls' basketball team relied on their defensive effort to hold on for a 41-37 victory over a tough Dartmouth Indians team in the finals of the Mansfield Roundball Classic Wednesday night.
Kaitlyn McCarthy had a strong first half, scoring all 10 of her points in the first two quarters and Michaela Bowes had 10 points in the second half, of her team-high 13, to give the Hornets just enough offense for the win.
Dartmouth jumped out to an early 7-2 lead as Mansfield needed five minutes to score their first points of the game. From there, the Hornets would finish the half on a 15-6 run, taking a 17-13 lead into the break.
Coach Mike Redding recognized how important McCarthy was to the Hornets in the first half. "I thought she carried us in the first half," he said. "They were all over Michaela and Katie hits a couple three's and in the second half they have to play Katie honest and it opens Michaela for the three and Tori (Victoria Shannon) for the drive."
Mansfield's lead grew to double digits in the third quarter, but Dartmouth stormed back in the fourth, cutting the lead to as few as two points on several occasions. The Indians were led by junior forward Lauren Pires' 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Hornets only made two field goals in the final quarter, but they shot 9-12 from the free throw line. With the score at 36-33, Bowes buried a corner three that was the dagger to put away the Indians.
Shannon had seven points and seven rebounds for Mansfield, while Kelly English added six points and eight boards. The Hornets (14-8) finished the season on 5-1 run and will now wait to see their seeding and match-up in the Division 1 playoffs. Redding hopes this will translate into confidence for his team in the tournament.
"We just felt like these last three would be good tournament-ready games," said Redding. "I don't even know that we were thinking about winning all three, just we're playing good competition going into the tournament. It was a good way to wrap it up with confidence."