MADISON TOWNSHIP — Roger Merrell made the most of his first career start.
Inserted into Mansfield Senior’s lineup in place of Quan Hilory, Merrell scored a career-high 31 points as the Tygers thundered to an 89-70 win over crosstown rival Madison in Oho Cardinal Conference action at Madison Middle School.
How good was Merrell on Friday?
The 6-foot junior shooting guard scored more points in his 18-plus minutes of floor time than he had scored in Senior High’s first 11 games combined (26 points) and bumped his average from 2.89 to 5.7 points a game. He connected on 9 of 14 field goal attempts, including seven 3-pointers.
“It felt great,” said Merrell, who earned the start because the high-scoring Hilory was late for the team bus. “It was a little unusual. I just … kept shooting and they fell.”
The Tygers (10-2, 6-1) led 45-33 at the half before Merrell caught fire in the third. He hit five treys in the period, scoring 15 points.
“I love it when my guys make me look smarter than I actually am,” Senior High coach Marquis Sykes said. “We’ve been waiting for him to have a breakout game. I don’t know if we expected seven 3s, including five in one quarter, but he certainly is a capable shooter.”
Thanks largely to Merrell, the Tygers led 72-44 after three quarters. He scored Senior High’s first five points of the fourth before being lifted to a standing ovation after connecting on a pair of free throws with 6:58 remaining.
“I hope that’s a moment that he will cherish and remember forever,” Sykes said. “I’m super proud of that guy.”
The Tygers connected on 12 of 32 treys as a team. Hilory and Anthony Hawkins each hit a pair of 3s.
“If you go into a Senior High game and they shoot 32 3s, you feel pretty good,” Madison coach Tim Mergel said. “Once again, it’s not the first shot that kills you. You can’t give up 20 offensive rebounds. When they’re shooting the way they shot it tonight and they’re getting some offensive rebounds, I don’t know if there’s any night that we can beat them when that happens.
“You pick your poison. You’ve got to shut down dribble penetration because it leads to offensive rebounds. They start knocking down a couple and the ones they do miss, they’re getting second and third opportunities.”
The Rams (3-12, 1-6) outscored the Tygers 26-17 in the fourth quarter. Jashawn Au led Madison with 18 points. Isaac Brooks added 13 and Tyler Tackett had 12.
Hilory backed Merrell with 12 points. Jakobe Reese added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Dontavious Burtin had eight points and nine rebounds.
Postponed: Mansfield Senior was scheduled to play Dayton Ponitz in the Medina MLK Classic on Sunday but the game has been postponed because of the approaching winter storm.