By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The drought’s over.
Now comes the challenge of doing it all again.
Mansfield, fresh off its first district title since 1995, seeks another postseason run with three starters returning to the lineup.
The Lady Lions are a team that loves to shoot 3s and deploy their full-court press.
“I think we’ll be fun to watch,” said Mansfield’s coach, Dr. Gary Greene. “I’m excited about our ability to shoot the ball and create turnovers on defense.”
Senior forward Jada Henry leads the way for Mansfield.
The all-state selection averaged 21 points and seven rebounds per game last season. She shot 40% from 3-point range and 58% from the field overall.
Henry has committed to play at College of the Ozarks next school year.
“She’s a great player and great shooter,” Greene said.
Mansfield returns two more starters in junior forward Madalyn Ivy and sophomore point guard Logan Jones.
Ivy’s impact goes beyond her modest 4.3 points per game.
“She’s our glue player,” Greene said. “She’s the type who does everything well. She’s a winner.”
Jones made a quick impact as a freshman last season, averaging 7.2 points and 4.3 assists per game.
“Logan’s an intense guard who loves to compete,” Greene said. “She will be a great on-ball defender.”
Mansfield returns several bench players who saw varsity action last season.
Sophomore Lauren Jones (7.3 ppg) matched her twin, Logan, in scoring average last season. Lauren also hit the game-winning shot against Hartville that secured Mansfield’s district title.
“Lauren has a scoring mentality,” Greene said. “She’s an exciting player and could have a great season for us.”
Mansfield also returns senior guards Megan Langley and Skylar Adams, along with junior guard Haley Tripp.
Langley is a threat from the perimeter.
“She’s an intense competitor who will help us stretch defenses,” Greene said.
Adams, who also runs track and cross country, brings additional shooting and defense to the floor. Tripp will have a similar role.
“(Skylar) makes us go on the defensive and can shoot pretty well. She can run for days,” Greene said. “Haley’s a good shooter who will play a big role for us this year. She shoots the 3 well and will be a big part of our full-court defensive scheme.”
Mansfield comes off one of the best seasons in program history.
The Lady Lions finished 24-7 overall and reached the quarterfinals of the Class 2 state tournament.
With a 52-50 win over Hartville in the finals of the Class 2 District 10 Tournament, Mansfield earned its first district title in 25 years.
Mansfield would go on to beat Newburg in sectionals before falling to Blue Eye in the quarterfinals.
The Lady Lions graduated three varsity players in Raine Roy, Chloe Lansdown and Natalie Quick.
Roy (first team) and Lansdown (honorable mention) were named to the All-Summit Conference Team. Lansdown is continuing her basketball career at Baptist Bible College in Springfield.
Mansfield will turn to the likes of Shaely Wilson, Macie Tate and Chloe Lemons to fill in the lost production.
Wilson is a senior forward looking to bounce back from recent knee injuries.
“She gives us defense and rebounding,” Greene said.
Tate and Lemons are sophoamores who will give Mansfield additional depth in the backcourt.
“Macie’s a scrappy guard who can shoot and will (help) our defensive plans,” Greene said. “Chloe is very quick and has a scorer’s mentality.”
Mansfield’s offseason left Greene feeling optimistic about the 2020-21 Lady Lions.
“We played in several shootouts over the summer and performed pretty well,” he said.
Mansfield opens the regular season November 23 at Bakersfield.