MANSFIELD — The No. 10 Marblehead Magicians faced off against the No. 2 Mansfield Hornets Friday night in the Elite 8 of Division II. In a packed gym, the host Hornets stung with a 77-50 victory.
Mansfield jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, fueling the Hornets faithful and making it difficult for Marblehead to get into a groove offensively.
All year, the Magicians have been known for their transition game and pushing the ball, but Friday, the Hornets beat them down the court in the first quarter – one that ended 24-9 in favor of Mansfield.
“I think we got into a bit of a panic mode,” Marblehead coach Mike Giardi said. “We thought we had a good scouting report of what we wanted to do and we kind of got away from it. Falling behind big, early, hurt us.”
“Last game, we started to fall behind and then an Isaiah [Makor] block charged us back up,” Giardi said. “We didn’t have that big play today that got us back into the game.”
The Magicians started in man-to-man defense, but were getting burnt by backdoor cuts. As a result, they switched to a zone, but Mansifeld capitalized with its hot-hand.
Mansfield connected on 10 threes, punishing the Magicians’ defense. This was all while the Magicians were “settling” for “one-and-jack” type threes, according to Giardi.
“I don’t mind threes, but they have to be good threes,” Giardi said.
Mansfield took a 39-20 lead into the half and didn’t look back. The Hornets came out of halftime and drilled four threes in three minutes to extend their lead to 29 (55-26).
“It was like the quicksand effect. We started sinking and instead of being calm and comfortable, we panicked a little bit and we sank a little bit faster,” Giardi said.
Mansfield held on to its lead, advancing to the Final Four and ending Marblehead’s season.
“Nobody expected us to go this far, except for us,” Giardi said. “We knew what type of team we could be. We have some really talented kids and we saw it.”
Giardi said despite the loss, his underclassmen are “hungry.”
“They’re looking at it thinking – what can we do?” Giardi said.
Senior Tyrone Countrymon lead the Magicians with 15 points, while junior Ryan Commoss chipped in with eight, and Nicholas Lemmond added seven.