MANSFIELD — Mansfield Senior coach Marquis Sykes was having a difficult time finding the words to describe the Tygers’ second-half scoring drought after Friday’s 54-44 loss to Ashland, so longtime assistant Jeff McCoy came up with the assist.
“We were stuck on 38 for a week,” McCoy said.
For Senior High fans, it sure felt that way.
The Tygers (8-9, 5-5 Ohio Cardinal Conference) managed just one field goal during a 10-minute stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters en route to their third straight loss.
“We just couldn’t put it in the basket tonight,” a frustrated Sykes said. “We missed free throws. We’d get offensive rebounds and miss stickbacks. We’d get it back again and miss it again.
“It was difficult for us to put the ball in the basket and at the end of the day that cost us the game.”
Mansfield Senior trailed 40-35 after an Anthony Pearson layup with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter. The Tygers would go more than three minutes before Nathaniel Haney drained a 3-pointer with 39 seconds remaining in the quarter to cut Ashland’s lead to 42-38.
Senior High wouldn’t score again until Shad Creamer connected on a pair of free throws with 2:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. By that time the Arrows (17-4, 10-2) led 50-40.
Senior High’s first field goal of the fourth quarter came when Maurice Ware scored on a layup with 1:50 to play. Ware scored again with 26 remaining as the Tygers managed only six fourth-quarter points.
Mansfield Senior had 18 offensive rebounds, but scored just six second-chance points.
“That’s unheard of and that’s the kind of night it was for us,” Sykes said. “We’d get a second and third opportunity at it and just couldn’t put it in the basket.
"When you mix that kind of shooting in with multiple turnovers and that amount of missed layups and free throws (the Tygers were 2-for-10 from the stripe), you can’t win.”
For it’s part, Ashland wasn’t much better from the field. The Arrows connected on 19 of 55 field goals (34.5) percent and were 6-for-23 from beyond the 3-point arc (26.1 percent).
“I think we went about five (minutes) without a field goal,” Ashland coach Jason Hess said. “We were stuck at 50-38 for a long time.
“I thought our defense was better in the second half and really I thought our offense was better, too. We didn’t make the shots that we have on some nights.
"But I thought our execution, especially in the second half, was much better.”
Eli White led the Arrows with 20 points and swiped eight rebounds. The senior swingman scored five straight points to open the fourth quarter, including a tough left-handed layup in traffic less than a minute into the period.
“We weren’t scoring there for a little bit,” White said. “I was lucky to make that (layup). I was kind of expecting a foul but it went in. I’m not going to complain about that one.
“Just seeing the ball go in really wakes everybody up.”
Luke Denbow had 18 points and nine assists for the Arrows. Grayson Steury added six, while Chase Hunt and Luke Jurjevic each had five. Jurjevic swiped a game-high 11 rebounds.
Creamer led the Tygers with 14 points. The senior grabbed five boards and handed out four assists. Haney and Pearson each had eight points, while Ware and Myles Bradley had six points apiece.
The Tygers, who have dropped five of their last seven after a season-best four-game winning streak in late-January, will try to bounce back against West Holmes on Saturday.
“Our guys, myself included, are emotionally exhausted right now, no doubt about it,” Sykes said. “We’re going to come out tomorrow though and fly around on Senior Night and give it everything we got.”