By Dan Libon
Boston, MA – No matter how hard Newton North tried on Friday, they just could not make Mansfield go away, as the Tigers surrendered two big leads and allowed Mansfield High School to win a nail-biter, 48-46 at the TD Garden.
During the first quarter, both teams displayed great defense, but also, advanced to the free throw line often.
Taking a 13-7 lead during the first half, Mansfield set the tone early with a defensive dominance and excellent drives to the basket. The Tigers however did not let down, as they came back in the second quarter with a drive that stared with a three pointer by junior guard Luke Westman. Newton North took a lead into halftime, while Mansfield retreated to their locker room confused and uncertain if they could make their shots.
Shutting down the Mansfield offense, Newton North turned a six point deficit into a five point lead. Mansfield struggled for most of the second quarter to keep up with Newton North. Resorting to the three-point shot, Mansfield finished [0-9] from behind the arch during the first 16-minutes.
Mansfield began to chip away at the lead during third quarter by getting within two points and began the fourth quarter only trailing the Tigers by four points.
While Newton North tried to pull away at times during the final eight minutes, Mansfield refused to give up, as the Hornets went on a 8-0 run, which sparked an epic comeback. Mansfield fans erupted during the final minutes when senior forward Michael Lofton recorded a quick slam dunk that gave the Hornets the momentum they had been looking for all game.
Moments later, Hornets senior forward Chris Johnson would hit the game winner for Mansfield, which finalized their comeback and secure them the MIAA Division I South champions.
After the game, Mansfield’s head coach, Michael Vaughn commented about the play of his team, but also focused on the offense and senior forward Michael Lofton‘s performance.
“Michel has been our best player all year long…but the staple of our team offensive has been our ability to pass the basketball and share.” said Mansfield coach Michael Vaughn.
Michael Lofton led the Hornets with 16 points, while teammate senior forward Christopher Johnson finished with 11 points, as well as the game winner.
Tigers senior forward Tevin Flazon led Newton North with 14 points and Michae Thorpe contributed 11 points.
Next up for Mansfield is the State Semifinal game on Tuesday at the TD Garden.