Mansfield Sports

Hot start has Tigers aiming for playoff berth

Mansfield boys basketball coach Jason Speakes said at the start of the season that one of the big goals for the Tigers was to make the playoffs, and so far, that objective is still well within reach.

The Tigers were 3-1 through their first four district games and are preparing to take on North Crowley, another team firmly in the playoff hunt, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at North Crowley High School.

Speakes said that a victory over the Panthers would be a huge accomplishment for his team.

“North Crowley is perennially one of the best teams in the state,” Speakes said. “They have size, speed, athleticism and depth. Their back court of Jordan Myers and Grant Sherfield is as dynamic as they come. We look forward to the challenge of competing against a proven program like North Crowley.”

While Speakes acknowledges that North Crowley is a huge game for his squad, he does not necessarily see it as being more important than any other district game.

“In district play, there is added significance to every game,” Speakes said. “I’ve stressed to our team to respect and prepare for every game the same way, regardless of whatever the name on the opponents jersey says.”

The strong start to district competition has not gone unnoticed by the Mansfield coach, who said he has had a couple of strong performances early on as well.

“We have been playing quite well thus far in district play,” Speakes said. “We continue to play well at home, which is a must if you want to be in playoff contention. We are getting better and better defensively; the addition of Saiid Adebo from football has certainly helped in that regard.

“We had a poor game on the road at Martin, but showed great resolve in our next outing by getting a critical home win over Lamar, 62-47. Garrett Shaw led with 22 points and eight rebounds, and D.J. Whiteside added 16 points and 10 assists.”

Speakes said that he is confident in his team’s ability to get to the postseason and said that what makes it even better for him is that his players realize what is at stake.

“Our kids realize they have a chance to put Mansfield basketball back on the map,” Speakes said. “We have a high-character, experienced group of seniors who want to be remembered for being the class that got Tiger basketball back to the playoffs. Near the halfway point of district play, we’ve put ourselves in position to have an opportunity to do just that.”