By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Mansfield Lady Lions enjoyed their best season in 23 years, and coach Gary Greene is confident that greater things are still to come.
“We had two, one-point losses to a Class 5 team that would have turned our season into a great one, instead of just a good one,” said Greene, who enters his 12th year as the Mansfield girls’ head coach. “Both of those games were games that could have gone either way for us. We are really close to being a very good team and I feel like we could turn the corner this year.”
The Lady Lions finished 17-10 overall and 4-2 in the Summit Conference last season. Mansfield also advanced to the Class 2 District 9 semifinals for the second-straight year, falling to Fordland last year.
Lost to graduation are Karsyn Brooke, Grace Roy and Hannah Tripp.
“Karsyn was a four-year all-conference and all-district player with 1,000-plus points and 1,000-plus rebounds in her career,” Greene said. “She was a great player who will be impossible to replace with all the things she did for us.”
Brooke is continuing her softball career at Evangel University.
“Grace and Hannah were both three-year lettermen, who started the last two years and gave us tremendous leadership and defensive presence,” Greene said. “They will all be missed tremendously.”
Key returnees for the Lady Lions include: seniors Chloe Lansdown and Raine Roy and junior Jada Henry.
“Chloe Lansdown is a three-year starter who is a great shooter and will get to move to the 2 guard this year, which will free her up to use her skill-set to greater advantage,” Greene said.
“Raine Roy will be back to lead us in the post and she is a tremendous athletic player who could have a breakout season this year.
“Jada Henry is an all-conference and all-district player who was our leading scorer last year. She had a great summer and is poised to be a breakout player this year. Jada could be one of the best players in the area, if she wants to.”
Other returning letterwinners are: juniors Megan Langley and Skylar Adams, senior Natalie Quick, and sophomores Madalyn Ivy and Haley Tripp.
“I expect us to be very fast,” Greene said. “We have several kids who can really run and we should be a team that can play an up-tempo type of offensive game. I think we can be a team that shoots the 3 pretty well and therefore, could be explosive at times offensively.
“I worry about our ability to defend the post. We aren’t very deep inside, so some of our guys are going to have to develop as we go along to provide us with some depth.”
Greene is excited about the newcomers to the Lady Lions program this year.
“Freshmen Lauren Jones and her twin sister Logan will be impact players on the varsity this season,” Greene said. “Both are highly skilled guards with unique skill-sets. Sophomore Madalyn Coble, junior Shaely Wilson and freshmen Chloe Lemons and Macie Tate also could compete for varsity time this year.”
Mansfield opens the season at home against Bakersfield on Nov. 25. The Lady Lions also will be playing in Norwood Tournament, the Mountain Grove Holiday Tournament and the Mansfield Lady Lion Invitational.
“I expect us to be very competitive and we could have a special year, if we can avoid injuries,” Greene said. “Team-wise, we could have the most wins we have had in 25 years. Our conference is as good as any small school conference in the state, so we will have to compete every night if we want to have a chance to be successful.”