MANSFIELD — Lexington turned up the heat and kept its Ohio Cardinal Conference title hopes alive Friday night.
The Minutemen limited Mansfield Senior to 29 percent shooting and held on for a 41-39 win at Pete Henry Gym.
Lex (7-3, 4-1) remained a game behind conference-leading Wooster in the loss column. The Generals beat Ashland on Friday to improve to 6-0 in OCC action.
Senior High (3-3, 2-2) connected on just 2 of 17 3-point field goals. The Tygers were 15 of 52 from the field.
“We knew that their strength was going to be on the perimeter,” Lex coach Scott Hamilton said. “If we could force them into a below-average shooting night then that favors us.”
Despite its shooting woes, Senior High had a chance to force overtime in the final seconds. Roger Merrell’s driving layup attempt rolled off the rim as time expired.
“I couldn’t be mad at the look we got. It just didn’t go our way,” Mansfield Senior coach Marquis Sykes said. “We played hard. We’ve just got to find way to put the ball in the basket a little more consistently.
“That’s been a struggle for us all year.”
Senior High led 11-8 after the first quarter and 18-16 at the half, but struggled to find its footing in the third. Lex opened the quarter on a 12-4 run and outscored the Tygers 18-12 in the period.
“At the start of the third quarter you have to put your mark on the game and … we didn’t do that tonight,” Sykes said. “That was the difference in the game.”
The Minutemen opened the fourth on a 4-0 run and opened a 38-30 advantage on a Dylan Spears layup with 5:16 remaining, but the Tygers refused to go quietly. Shad Creamer’s steal and layup with 3:50 to play capped a quick 5-0 run and cut Lexington’s lead to 38-35.
Isaiah Pack stemmed the tide when he hit both ends of a one-and-one with 2:22 remaining for a 40-35 lead. An offensive rebound and putback by Trevin Hines and a steal and layup by Merrell with 52 seconds to go made it 40-39 before Spears split a pair of free throws with 31.7 seconds remaining.
“Mansfield always has a run. They can always score a lot of points quick,” said Lexington’s Max Waldruff, who scored a game-high 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting and added six rebounds. “We tried not to relax but sometimes it just happens.”
Pack and Kayden Berry backed Waldruff with nine points apiece.
Merrell and Creamer led Senior High with nine points each. Hines and Davin Brown each added seven.