Saturday’s 68-62 win over previously unbeaten Warren Harding was the
number listed in the rebounding column on the stat sheet. The undersized Tygers
(13-1) outrebounded the Raiders (11-1) 38-33 in a match up of
teams ranked in the Top 10 in the most recent state poll.
MANSFIELD – He banked in three 3-pointers in the second quarter and calmly sank 10-of-11 free throws on his way to a game-high 27 points.
But what Mansfield Senior guard T.J. Lindsay was most proud of after Saturday’s 68-62 win over previously unbeaten Warren Harding was the number listed in the rebounding column on the stat sheet.
The 6-foot-2 Lindsay swiped eight boards and the undersized Tygers (13-1) outrebounded the Raiders (11-1) 38-33. Mansfield Senior grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to Harding’s nine in a match up of a pair of team’s ranked in the Top 10 in the most recent state poll – the Tygers were ninth and the Raiders were fourth.
“We went out there and battled with them,” Lindsay said. “We knew they were bigger and more athletic than us, but we weren’t going to be denied. When the ball went up, we got a body on them, then went and got it.”
Lindsay and senior forward Pierre Smith put on a show in the first half, scoring 26 of Mansfield Senior¹s 32 points. Smith, who is listed at 6-2, attacked the basket relentlessly against a Harding lineup that included 6-8 Chris Henderson and 6-7 Damian Eargle.
“They were huge, but the only way to get the ball to the basket was attack them,” Smith said. “We wanted to take it at them and we did a good job of it early.”
With Lindsay leading the way, the Tygers outscored the Raiders 18-13 in the second quarter for a 32-26 halftime lead. Lindsay, who had 14 points in the quarter, brought the partisan crowd to its feet when he banked in a trey from near the top of the key with 7:09 to play before halftime, giving the Tygers a 19-15 lead. He banked in his second 3 from the wing with 4:32 left in period and sent the Tygers faithful into a frenzy when he banked in his third 3-pointer of the period from the top of the key as time expired in the first half.
“I can’t say I was trying to bank them in,” Lindsay said through a wide grin. “I was just trying to get the ball up on the rim and give it a chance to go in.”
Mansfield Senior coach Gregg Collins was taken aback by Lindsay’s uncanny ability to use the glass from distance.
“That was something else,” he said. “Obviously, T.J.’s banked 3s aren’t something we can count on a lot.”
The Raiders made their charge in the third quarter, outscoring the Tygers 21-14 for a 47-46 lead.
“We were able to weather the storm a little bit in the first half,” Harding coach Steve Arnold said. “We were able to stay in striking distance.”
Harding’s lead could have been much bigger had it not been for the long-range marksmanship of Mansfield Senior’s Jacob Owens. The 5-9 junior knocked down three 3-pointers in the third quarter and was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc on the afternoon.
“Those 3s in the third quarter turned out to be pretty big for us,” Owens said. “They had changed up their defense and forced us into some turnovers to get the lead and the momentum.
“Those 3s helped swing the momentum back in our favor.”
The Tygers reclaimed the lead early in the four quarter on a pair of Lindsay free throws. Owens’ fourth 3-pointers of the afternoon pushed Mansfield Senior¹s advantage to 51-47, but Harding tied it on Sheldon Brogdon’s layup with 4:13 to play.
Lindsay, who missed some critical free throws down the stretch when the teams met last year in Warren, was 6-for-6 from the stripe in the fourth quarter.
“When I went to the line, all I was thinking about was what happened at their place last year,” Lindsay said of Harding’s 70-69 double-overtime win early last season. “I wasn’t going to let it happen again. I went to the line with a lot of confidence.”
Lindsay wasn’t alone. The Tygers connected on 17-of-25 free throws on the afternoon, while the Raiders were just 12-of-26.
“I told these guys back in the summer, we’ll advance because of free throw shooting or we’ll go home because of free throw shooting,” Arnold said. “We took a four-point lead (38-34) late in the third quarter and from there we just didn’t execute.”
Brogdon and Eargle paced the Raiders with 17 points apiece. Desmar Jackson added 12.
For the Tygers, Owens backed Lindsay with 14 points. Smith had 12.
The win pushed Mansfield Senior’s home winning streak to 37 games. The Tygers have never lost in the new Pete Henry Gym since moving in before the 2004-2005 season.
“That home winning streak is something we take a lot of pride in,” Owens said. “We don’t want to be the team to break the streak.”