By Don Eskins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Licking Lady Wildcats downed the Mansfield Lions 63-42 Saturday night, in Mansfield, to claim this year’s Mansfield Lady Lions Invitational championship.
The victory pushed the Wildcats record up to 17-2 on the year. With the loss the Lions fell to 14-7.
Both teams struggled to find the basket during the early minutes of the opening quarter, but as the final two minutes of the frame ticked off Licking began to take charge and grabbed an 11-6 lead by period’s end.
The Wildcats, who used a full court press throughout the game, went on to out-point the Lions 19-12 in the second stanza to collect a 30-18 lead at the half.
“Both teams looked nervous as the game got underway. Neither of us were executing, we both had lots of turnovers and neither of us could score,” said Licking head coach Steven Rissler. “Thankfully though we were able to get some steals for a few quick buckets to get us going. Lexi Hadix also came off the bench to hit two big three’s for us in the second quarter; that really helped us out.”
“Lexi’s two three’s inspired us to play harder,” said Lady Wildcat and Mansfield Tournament MVP Karlie Holland. “She got us fired up and we went on a run to push our lead up to 12 points by half-time.”
The Lady Cats continued to pressure the Lions and find their way to the basket throughout third and fourth quarter action. Over the final two periods of play Licking put up 33 points to Mansfield’s 24 to claim the 63-42 victory.
“We knew Mansfield would battle tonight because they had a lot to play for. They were playing on their court, had several seniors on their roster and after having lost to us in last year’s Mansfield tournament final we figured they’d like nothing more than to even things up,” said Rissler. “To beat them we knew we’d have to keep the pressure up and play hard for four quarters. That’s just what our girls did and I’m really proud of the effort they put out to get the win tonight.”
Hadix, who wound up with four three pointers and a field goal for 14 points, led the Wildcat offensive effort. Also putting up points for Licking were: Karlie Holland (13), Abby Moncrief (12), Kiley Ingram and Anna Sullins (6 each), Lainy Hadix and Kylie Taylor (5 each) and Athena Hood 2.
Out in front for Mansfield was Jada Henry with 14 points. Also scoring for the Lady Lions were: Karsyn Brooke (10), Raine Roy (6), Gracie Williams and Chloe Lansdown (3 each), Grace Roy and Hannah Tripp (2 each), Haley Tripp and Natalie Quick (1 each).
“There’s a reason Licking’s lost only two games this year. They’re a pretty good ball club,” said Mansfield head coach Dr. Gary Greene. “Tonight we just didn’t execute well enough on offense to win.”
“But our girls gave it their best shot,” Greene said. “They fought hard all night, just like they always do and I’m very proud of them for that.”
Josie Sullivan – Norwood
Emily Shipman – Forsyth
Jada Henry – Mansfield
Karsyn Brooke – Mansfield
Abby Moncrief – Licking
Karlie Holland (MVP) – Licking