MANSFIELD — Mansfield Senior coach Marquis Sykes blew out his birthday candles Friday night, but not before the Tygers turned out the lights on Lexington.
Quan Hilory scored 17 of his game-high 18 points in the first half and Senior High topped Lexington 61-51 in Ohio Cardinal Conference action Friday at Pete Henry Gym.
The win pulled the Tygers (15-4, 9-2) even with the Minutemen (15-5, 9-2) atop the OCC standings.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more, a good quality home win against the top team in the conference,” said Sykes, who turned 38 Friday. “It got us in the chase. We’re tied for first and we’ll try to finish the season out the right way.”
Senior High is in position to capture its first conference title since 2013 thanks in no small part to Hilory. The senior sharpshooter, who managed just seven points in a 53-39 loss at Lexington last month, was 7 for 11 from the floor and connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.
“When we played them the first game I wasn’t really locked in,” Hilory said. “Today I was really locked in. I shot it way better this game.”
The Tygers led 31-26 at the half and pushed the advantage to 37-26 on a Roger Merrell layup with 3:45 remaining in the third. The Minutemen closed the quarter on a 7-2 run and trailed 39-33 going to the fourth.
“One of the things we talked about after the game was, from the opening tip (Mansfield Senior) had a sense of urgency. It mattered to them right away,” Lex coach Scott Hamilton said. “As the game went on, it mattered to us. We needed to have the attitude that every bucket mattered, every possession counted.”
Senior High led 51-43 when Lex’s Cade Stover was whistled for his fifth foul with three minutes remaining. The Minutemen would make things interesting without their leading scorer as Kyle Johnston canned back-to-back treys to make it 52-49 with 2:19 to play. That was as close as Lex would get, however, as the Tygers closed on an 8-2 run to give their coach a birthday gift to remember.
“I promised him we were going to win today,” Hilory said. “Our whole team promised him we were going to get that ‘W’ and we got it.”
Jakobe Reese backed Hilory with 12 points and six rebounds. The senior was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Dontavious Burtin added seven points and nine boards.
Stover led Lex with 14 points and 13 rebounds despite battling foul trouble all evening. Johnston matched Stover with 14 points, while Josh Aiello added 10 points.