There were many points in King Philip’s game against Mansfield where the Warriors were only a shot away from getting the lead. Yet that shot never came, and the Hornets pulled away each time.
“I thought that they might get over the hump and we were gonna have to fight from behind a little," said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. We stuck with the game plan and got a few defensive stops, and it made a big difference.” .
The KP Warriors fell to the Mansfield Hornets, 59-50, in the battle of two of the best teams in the area.
After starting the game with a 6-0 lead and a 12-11 lead after one quarter, the Warriors couldn't handle the Hornets on the boards.
Multiple second chance shots helped the Hornets get and extend the lead to 28-21 at halftime, as it was a quiet half for almost anyone wearing a white jersey.
“Our rebounding was what kinda did us in. We gave up too many second shot opportunities," King Philip coach Sean McInnis said.
Around midway through the third quarter, KP's Jake Layman got hot by outscoring the Hornets on a 12-2 run to get the Warriors to within one at 36-35. The KP senior showed off his ability to take over the game, as he had no trouble hitting open jumpers and even drawing a couple of three and four-point plays in the process.
The Hornets quickly built the lead back up to 45-35 early in the fourth quarter. As KP struggled to find that one big shot to get them past Mansfield, the Hornets were busy nailing free throws and getting quick putbacks.
While KP expected missed shots to end up around the paint, Mansfield was ready for the three-point shot when the ball bounced off the rim to the outside.
Down by seven with a little more than three minutes to play, the Warriors slowly chipped away at the Mansfield lead and got to within four after a Connor Smith three pointer with 1:35 to go.
Desperate to regain possession, the Warriors ended up forcing Mansfield to the free throw line, where Ryan DeAndrade nailed four of six with under a minute to play to lock up an important win for the Hornets.
It was a big win for the Hornets, who are likely to be in a tight race for the Kelley-Rex Division Championship with King Philip. Getting timely rebounds and drawing fouls even with an expiring shot clock, the Hornets used a team effort to get past a King Philip team that looked inconsistent at times.
“Give Mansfield all the credit on this one. They outworked us and they outcoached is too,” McInnis said.
Jake Layman led all scorers with 28 points. Behind him for the Warriors was Mike Schmidt with six points.
Terrence O’Mara led all Mansfield scorers with 12 points. Brian Hershman and Gregory Romanko had 9 points. Brendan Hill had 8 points.
The Warriors are now 1-1 while the Hornets improve to 2-0.
King Philip is off until Dec. 29, when they host Nashoba Valley Technical High School. Mansfield will be back at it on Dec. 22, when they travel to Coyle-Cassidy in Taunton.