Mansfield head coach Gary Greene knew his Lady Lions had a tough road ahead of them if they were going to find a way to win their first ever State Farm Insurance Holiday Tournament in Mountain Grove.
After receiving the No. 3 seed, the Lady Lions were faced with pathway that included rival Hartville, Willow Springs and Salem.
They would also need to beat them in three straight days.
His team responded to the challenge with solid defensive play to win the three games and the squad’s first ever tournament title.
“I thought the key was we defended our butts off,” Greene said. “I got a bunch of kids who compete like crazy. They fight and are hard-nosed.”
In the championship game against No. 1 seed Salem, the Lady Lions flexed their muscle right after the opening tip by making a 12-0 run.
Logan Jones scored seven points and Lauren Jones capped off the run with a 3-pointer.
Logan Jones actually went on to score 11 points in the opening frame for a 16-8 lead.
Mansfield’s offense continued to pour it on in the second quarter as five different players scored. Macie Tate nailed a big 3-pointer while Logan Jones converted a 3-point play to push the lead to 14.
After making 12-of-22 shots from the field and the defense holding Salem to just 7-of-26 shooting, the Lady Lions led 28-16 at halftime.
The Lady Tigers opened the third quarter with a 5-0 run to cut the lead to seven.
A Salem player was then whistled for a technical foul as Logan Jones hit both free throws.
Up 35-24, the Lady Lions’ defense struggled for really the first time, allowing back-to-back 3-pointers to cut into their lead.
Entering the fourth with a nine point edge, Mansfield saw their lead cut to five with 3:50 left in the game.
In fact, Salem had an 11-2 run to trim the lead to just four points with 2:01 left in the game.
Harleigh Hodges had a big rebound and an assist to Lauren Jones for a basket to put Mansfield up, 43-37.
With 1:10 left, Salem cut the lead to three when Mansfield had a 4-0 run at just the right time.
Eventual tournament MVP, Logan Jones, scored six points in the fourth to help Mansfield hold on for the 48-39 victory.
“For me, what happened is we were not going to let tired win,” Greene noted. “They were not going to let (being) tired beat them tonight.”
Defensively, Mansfield forced Salem to make just 15-of-55 shots from the field.
She finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Lauren Jones, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, scored 10 points, four rebounds, one block and one steal. Hodges tallied six points, four rebounds, two blocks, two assists and one steal; Tate had three points and one rebound; and Madalyn Ivy added two points, four rebounds and two assists.
One day earlier, the Lady Lions defeated former Norwood coach Shannon Crain and his Willow Springs team, 45-41.
Mansfield trailed by six points at halftime before their defense held the Lady Bears to just 16 points in the second half. Willow Springs was outscored, 13-5, in the fourth as the Lady Lions rallied for the win.
Logan Jones finished with 17 points; Lauren Jones added eight points; Tate scored five; Hailey Tripp, Hodges and Elly Williams each had two points; while Ivy scored one point.
In the quarterfinals against Hartville, the Lady Lions held a slim three point lead at halftime before outscoring the Lady Eagles, 27-15, in the second half to pick up a 50-35 victory.
Logan Jones scored nine points in the opening quarter and finished with a game-high 28 points. Hodges added seven points; both Lauren Jones and Tate had six points; Williams scored two points; and Ivy had one point.
In the first round against Gainesville, the Lady Lions’ defense shut out the Lady Bulldogs in the opening quarter.
The defense also held Gainesville to nine points or less in all four quarters as Mansfield cruised to a 53-19 win.
In fact, Gainesville scored just nine points in the second quarter, two points in the third quarter and only five points in the final frame.
Logan Jones and Ivy both scored 12 points; Tate had 10; Lauren Jones scored nine points; Hailey Tripp added five points; Williams scored three points; and Hodges added two points.
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