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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Third time the charm

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It was starting to sound like a broken record.

The Thayer Bobcats vs. the Mansfield Lions for the Class 2 District 2 Tournament championship.

But this time, it's the Bobcats who are humming a happy tune while the Lions sing the blues.

Meeting for the third straight year in the district finals, Thayer broke the Mansfield hex and the Cats claimed the championship with a 54-47 victory March 7 at Summersville High School.

With the district hardware in their bag, the Bobcats (23-3), ranked eighth in Class 2, advanced to the sectional round in Poplar Bluff, where they faced fifth-ranked Portageville.

In the district finals, things swung Thayer's way in a pivotal 45-second stretch in the third period, when emotions got the best of the third-seeded Lions.

Justin Shipp had picked up his third foul barely a minute into the third and was forced to the bench, where he would stay until deep in the frame. Despite this, Shipp still had a huge night and paced Thayer, the tourney's number-one seed, with a game-high 18 points.

Mansfield used Shipp's absence to its advantage and pulled ahead by six points, the Lions' biggest lead of the night.

Lance Schneider (11 points) hit a big bucket for Thayer at the 3:15 mark, then things unraveled for the Lions.

Sheirif Williams was called for a foul on Ryan Veatch (seven points) with 2:33 left in the third, and he took exception with the call, earning himself a technical foul for his displeasure.

Veatch hit a free throw and Schneider hit both technical free throws, to pull the Cats within one point.

With the ball in their possession after the T, Veatch canned a big-league jumper at the 2:13 mark to push Thayer in front 31-30.

Williams' technical foul also earned him some bench time via Mansfield Head Coach Terry Writer, and Luke Martin and Jacob Eckman responded by dominating the backboards the last part of the third and early in the fourth.

The Lions did pull ahead late in the third, but Martin (16 points) racked up two late buckets, including an acrobatic stickback at the buzzer, to lock things at 35-all after three.

Continuing where he left off in the third, Martin was a beast in the fourth and opened with back-to-back hoops in traffic to give the Cats a 39-35 lead. Eckman (two points) cleaned up the defensive glass on the other end and Shipp jacked a huge 3-ball with 5:56 left to edge Thayer on top 42-35.

But Mansfield was not ready to go home just yet.

Joseph Dugger hit a 3-pointer and Landon Jarrett (16 points) followed with a deuce to pull the Lions within two, 42-40.

However, Shipp had an answer for that -- another trey.

Schneider made sure Mansfield would get no closer by hitting seven straight from the charity stripe to give Thayer a tough 54-47 victory over the two-time defending district champions from Mansfield.

As would be expected in a matchup of two quality ball clubs, this one was tight for the whole night.

Mansfield held a 9-6 lead late in the first period when Shipp was fouled shooting a trey. He sank all three freebies and Martin followed with a layup next down down the floor, edging Thayer in front by two.

But a hoop from Cody Clayton squared things at 11-all after one.

Shipp went off in the second and scored Thayer's first nine points in the stanza to give the Cats a 20-15 lead.

But the Lions fought back and finished the second strong. A 3-pointer from Dugger with 20 ticks left on the clock gave Mansfield a 24-22 lead at intermission.

The Bobcats opened tourney play March 2 with an 85-63 victory over the Koshkonong Bluejays.

Thayer led 25-12 after one and 47-19 at the half.

Schneider finished with a game-high 22 points for the Cats, while Kevin Sandridge added 19 and Shipp 12.

Veatch had seven points and Martin six. Eckman, Jared Foley and Ricky Smith posted four points each. Josh Huckabee scored three, and Blake Allen added two. Gaston Orahood and Heath Barbee tossed in one point each.

Koshkonong was paced by Shane Tullos' 19 points. Robert Gatewood followed with 15 and Tim Voss added eight. Ethan Ulmanis posted seven points, Kelby Waggoner had five, Wayne Cahoj four, Evan Ball three and Tyler Blaylock two.

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