MANSFIELD -- When Mansfield Senior coach Marquis Sykes took over the basketball program at his alma mater last year, his initial goal was for his team to play hard in every game -- and then to win the conference championship.
Mission accomplished. The roar has been restored.
The Tygers earned a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title Friday night with a 73-62 win over the Ashland Arrows in Pete Henry Gymnasium. Mansfield Senior shares the crown with Lexington.
"I love it," said Sykes, who took over the head coaching position after a long tenure as the junior varsity and varsity assistant.
The fact it's the first OCC title since 2013 for the program Sykes led to the state's Final Four as a player in 1999 was not lost on the coach.
The seven seniors on this year's 17-4, 10-2 team were in middle school the last time Mansfield Senior could hang a conference banner. The Tygers got it done by winning six of their last seven games, including a 10-point win against Lexington last week.
"This is big for (the seniors). It's their first one. It's my first one as the head coach. I am happy for these guys. We are going to enjoy it," Sykes said.