With only a couple weeks to go before district tournaments tipoff in high school basketball, just about every team in every class is trying to find the magic, so they can make a deep, postseason run.
But the one exception is the Mansfield boys basketball team. They’ve had it all year long, and the Lions are hungrier than ever for their first state title.
“We take it day by day, game by game, and just try to win each time we step on the court,” said Lions Head Coach Cody Shelton.
Four years ago, Cody Shelton became the head coach of the Mansfield High School boys basketball team. In Shelton’s first three seasons at the helm, the Lions played like they were drinking tranquilizers instead of Gatorade…compiling a record of 31-47.
But this winter, the Lions are the kings of the court in Class 3…boasting a perfect mark of 21-0.
“I think the difference is the maturity of our kids,” said Shelton. “They’ve worked hard the last few years to get where we’re at. I think that’s the difference of our guys is the experience and maturity they’ve had over the last two to three years.”
“We played together for a while, we played together during the summer, too, which helped us prepare for the season,” said Lions guard Landen Campbell. “And then we just outside of stuff we hang out a lot which gives the team chemistry itself.”
Mansfield’s meteoric rise is driven by it’s six seniors. Headlined by Tom Emerick, who hasn’t forgotten the feelings from the lean years.
“We just gotta walk on the court with a chip on our shoulder and have the mentality that we’re the best team on the court every time,” said Emerick. “Play like that game’s easily able to lose, basically.”
The Lions average 66 points per game, thanks to four starters scoring 10 or mor points per contest. Emerick leads the pack, averaging nearly 20. It’s the second best clip for the program in the last 15 years.
“We knew this group had a chance to be a good group. They work hard. It’s very refreshing to have a group like this. You go out there and tell them what to do,” said Shelton. “Most of the hard work is done in practice. They just go out and perform.”
Mansfield hasn’t been to the state title game since 2007, but with the district tournament exactly two weeks away, the Lions remain focused on their humble recipe for success.
“We just need to come with the same confidence we have all year,” said Campbell. “Since the beginning of the year when we weren’t 20-0, yet, we were 3-0 still playing good, still playing how we have been.”
“This is the most important. We want to play our best as we finish the season,” said Shelton. “We hope to make that long playoff run and give ourselves a chance to win the district and make that long playoff run.”