The Mansfield Lions must have some kind of a jinx on the Thayer Bobcats, as the Lions once again handed the Cats a painful loss on their home court.
After the two teams battled it out for the district tournament championship last season, with Mansfield knocking off the Bobcats for the title, the Lions rolled into Thayer Dec. 5 and came away with a hard-fought 55-52 win in the first week of the 2008 season.
As always, Coach Terry Writer's Mansfield team was almost picture-perfect in the style and precision play their coach has come to be known for. This slow methodical pace, strong fundamentals and effective defense seems to suit the Lions just fine.
The Bobcats, still reeling from the rigors of football season that just ended days before hoops season tipped off, were content most of the time to play at the Lions' pace.
Luke Martin battled hard under the boards early, but was not able to get much going on the scoreboard.
Justin Shipp and Ryan Veatch both had their problems with ball control and were unable to buy a bucket in the early going.
The Bobcats trailed the Lions 14-17 at the end of one.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Bobcats were still searching for firepower and had to rely on Lance Schneider and Jacob Eckman. Down by as many as 13 points, the Bobcats managed to keep things exciting, and went into the final period down 35-44.
The Lions controlled the ball for almost three minuets to start the final frame.
With 2:41 left in the fourth, the Bobcats scratched closer, as the Lions only led by six, 48-42.
Josh Huckabee helped add some pressure on the ball, but the Lions did not make mistakes and used the clock as a sixth man.
With 54.1 seconds on the clock, and the Bobcats down 46-51, Schneider was able to drain a couple of treys to bring the Cats closer.
With time running out, the Bobcats played pretty good defense, although they had to foul to stop the clock.
Schneider was able to get one last shot away, which was off the mark at the final buzzer, giving Mansfield the 55-52 win over the Cats (1-1).
Schneider had 19 points going into the final minute, and after hitting the last six points for Thayer, ended up with a game-high 25.
Eckman added 18 points, while Martin had five. Veatch and Shipp added two points apiece.
Thayer used a big fourth-period push to open the season with a 72-58 victory over the Summersville Wildcats Dec. 2.