Taking a 39-38 lead into the fourth quarter Tuesday at Stoughton, the Mansfield High girls' basketball team maintained that same 1-point advantage about midway through the fourth. Continuing a back-and-forth start to the quarter, a two-pointer from Lauren Beecher gave the Hornets back the lead, 46-45.
At the time, it looked like the game might come down to a dramatic shot in the final seconds. But instead, Stoughton pulled away as Mansfield went cold offensively.
After going up 46-45, Mansfield didn't score again until the there was about 30 seconds left. Stoughton closed the game on a 15-2 run, winning 60-48, a final margin not indicative of how close these two teams played until the game opened up in the final few minutes.
With the loss, Mansfield falls to 2-8, while Stoughton improves to 7-2.
"We had some good looks, we just didn't make them," Mansfield coach Mike Redding said of his team's performance in the final minutes of the game.
"You get into those last [few] minutes in a 1-point game it's going to be the team that finishes," Redding said. "We were making the three to stay in it and then we couldn't make those big threes in the last two or three minutes to hang around. We played hard and got beat by a good team."
"Down the stretch the kids showed some composure and put the game away from the [foul] line," Stoughton coach Janet Sullivan said of her team's effort, noting Stoughton's 7/10 showing from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. "[Mansfield's] a good team. They're very, very aggressive, very scrappy and they gave us a good test tonight."
After Stoughton took a 22-20 lead into the half, Mansfield responded with an 8-0 run to start the third, which included three-pointers from Alyssa Kelley and Janet Maher. But, Stoughton erased the deficit, and the teams traded shots for the rest of the third and the beginning of the fourth, until Stoughton made the decisive run.
Kelley led Mansfield with 12 points, while Janet Maher added 11 and Gina Stoyle had 9.
Nicole Daniels led Stoughton with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Redding gave Beecher, a 6' junior, her first varsity start because he wanted a bigger lineup to contend with Daniels, the tallest player on the court at 6'3". Redding said Beecher "played tough" against Daniels.
"We did as much as we could to take her away, but she got some big rebounds and made some tough shots. There's only so much you can do with that much skill and size in the paint," Redding said.
Mackenzie McGrath was Stoughton's other big scorer, finishing with 19 for Stoughton, including 14 in the second half.
Mansfield plays North Attleboro Friday, while Stoughton takes on Oliver Ames the same night.