Kiyah Wentz

Mansfield Senior's Kiyah Wentz drives against Clear Fork's Annika Labaki during last week's sectional opener at Clear Fork.

MANSFIELD — The Tygers are playing with confidence — and with good reason.

For the first time since 2012, Mansfield Senior will play in the district girls basketball tournament after knocking off Ontario 45-31 in the sectional finals Saturday at Pete Henry Gym. The seventh-seeded Tygers raced to a 20-1 lead early in the second quarter and were never seriously threatened.

“The key to us winning the sectional was defending the 3-point line and defending the jump shot,” Senior High coach JeVar Hudgens said afterward. “I told them it would be a game of runs. We weathered the storm. The 20-1 lead helped.”

Next up for the Tygers is a rematch with top-seeded Shelby in the district semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Ashland’s Arrow Arena. The Whippets, who knocked off Port Clinton 69-49 in Saturday’s sectional championship game, beat Senior High 63-34 in early January.

“I think our confidence is a little bit better,” Hudgens said when asked about the rematch. “Everyone is learning their role. If we go in ready to play and shake the nerves off, I think we’ve got a chance.”

Mansfield Senior and Shelby are two of the area’s five remaining teams after a rough opening week of the tournament. Colonel Crawford, Buckeye Central and Loudonville all survived to reach their respective district tournaments.

Colonel Crawford advanced to the Division III Shelby district tournament semifinals with a pair of wins last week. The sixth-seeded Eagles knocked off No. 7 Milan Edison 38-25 in the sectional semifinals then stunned No. 2 Hopewell-Loudon 33-29 in the sectional championship. Colonel Crawford will meet No. 3 seed Margaretta in the district semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Shelby.

Buckeye Central, the No. 1 seed in the Division IV Willard district, hammered No. 9 Lakeside Danbury 74-18 in the sectional finals. The Buckettes will take on No. 5 South Central in the district semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Willard.

Also in Division IV, No. 1 seed Loudonville knocked off No. 11 Richmond Heights 76-37 in the sectional semifinals and dispatched No. 6 Willoughby Andrews Osborne 71-63 in the sectional finals to reach this week’s district tournament. The Redbirds will host No. 3 Dalton in the district semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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