MADISON TOWNSHIP — There’s something about Madison Middle School that brings out the best in Mansfield Senior’s Roger Merrell.
A senior sharpshooter, Merrell scored a season-high 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting as the Tygers cruised to a 68-39 Ohio Cardinal Conference win over the Rams.
In his first start at Madison last January, Merrell dropped a career-best 31 in an 89-70 victory over the Rams.
“I don’t know. I see the ball go in one time and it just keeps going,” Merrell said.
The Rams (3-10, 1-5) trailed 22-6 after the first quarter, but opened the second on an 11-2 run to cut Senior High’s lead to 24-17 on a Jayondrae Jones 3-pointer with 3:41 remaining in the half. The Tygers (4-4, 3-2) closed the quarter on an 11-6 burst to take a 35-23 advantage to the break.
“We’re not quite there where we understand how big possessions like that are,” Madison coach Tim Mergel said. “We had a lot of trouble finding any kind of continuity. We just can’t get everybody on the same page and with Senior High it’s tough. They pressure the basketball and it makes it extremely difficult.
“We’re a step behind offensively. If they take away the first read, getting to the second and third reads is a struggle for us.”
Merrell scored seven points during the game-deciding second-quarter stretch. His 3-pointer with 3:27 remaining pushed the lead back to double figures at 37-27 and the Rams would never seriously threaten again.
“He loves this gym,” Senior High coach Marquis Sykes said of Merrell. “I could tell in warm-ups that he was locked in.
“He had his rhythm and shots were falling.”
Mansfield Senior put it on ice in the third. The Tygers outscored the Rams 24-5 to open a 59-28 bulge.
“We talked about it at halftime, to make sure to start the third quarter … locked in,” Sykes said. “I thought we did that. We were engaged and … things started to come together.”
Sykes, whose Tygers are at Ashland on Friday and at North Canton Hoover in the Mercy Medical Classic on Sunday, substituted freely in the second half. Eight of the 11 players dressed played at least 10 minutes and 10 of the 11 scored.
“We got two more games this week,” Sykes said. “It’s great to see those guys come in off the bench.”
Shad Creamer backed Merrell with 13 points. Davin Brown added seven, while Maurice Ware swiped a team-high seven rebounds.
Levi Zehner led Madison with nine points. Jones added seven.