Bowsher’s Nate Allen goes flying as he is fouled by Mansfield Senior’s DeJorr Gibson, left. Allen led the Rebels with 22 points.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
LIMA — It was simply a nightmare.
Bowsher's first Division I boys regional semifinal appearance in school history unraveled practically from the start against Mansfield Senior, resulting in a disappointing 66-50 season-ending defeat on Thursday night at Lima Senior.
The eighth-ranked Rebels (24-3) played arguably their worst game of the year, and it cost them dearly against the Tygers (20-5).
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos of the game.
Bowsher was held to a season-low point total on a night when the typically high-scoring Rebels, who topped the 100-point mark eight times this season, made only 3 of 23 3-point shot attempts.
Poor outside shooting, along with a handful of unforced turnovers and defensive breakdowns that left plenty of Tygers staring at wide-open shots, led the Rebels into halftime with a 36-15 deficit.
"The first half, I think we were a little surprised," Bowsher coach Joe Guerrero said. "They came out and smacked us in the face.
"Who would have thought we would be down 21 points at the half? We just seemed a step slow, and that hasn't happened to us all year. You have to give them credit, they came out and took it to us, and we did not respond the first half."
Bowsher senior guard Nate Allen, who accounted for the Rebels' made threes, finished with a game-high 22 points and was the lone Rebel to score in double figures. Aundre Kizer and Dajuan King finished with eight apiece, while Mark Washington added seven.
"We came out flat in the first half thinking it was an easy game," Allen said. "That's a lesson learned. You can't take anybody lightly."
"They just came to play and maybe we took them too lightly in the first half and that dug us a hole we had to get out of," Washington said.
But the Rebels never did.
A made 3 by Allen with 1:48 left in the game cut the Tygers’ lead to 57-49, which was the first time Bowsher trailed by single digits since early in the first quarter.
The Tygers responded by closing out the game with a 9-1 run. Naradain James, who led the Tygers with 19 points, excited the Mansfield crowd with a pair of breakaway slam dunks during the game-finishing spurt.
"I thought initially we had to guard them early and make every look [at the basket] tough and it would bode well for us, and it did," Mansfield coach J.T. Reese said. "That's a great team over there. It's a great team, great players, great coach. I thought tonight we were ready mentally and defensively."
James, a 6-foot-5 junior, led the Tygers on both ends of the floor, finishing with four blocked shots and altering several others.
"All week we'd been focusing on defense," James said. "Our game plan was to keep them out of the middle and make them shoot over a contested hand, block out, and rebound."
The Rebels won't forget what took place anytime soon as their hopes of making it to the state tournament for the first time in school history were dashed in what seemed like a matter of minutes. The Tygers scored the first five points and closed out the opening quarter with a 14-5 lead.
The Rebels couldn't shoot, clanking what seemed like shot after shot. Defense, which hasn't been their forte all season, was nonexistent as time after time Mansfield had wide-open looks at the rim. The Tygers scored from close range and had clear looks from beyond the 3-point arc.
Yet, the most glaring reason for the Rebels slipping into a huge deficit is they looked physically spent against a Tygers team that shadowed them with a solid man-to-man defensive effort.
Despite the loss, Guerrero said the Rebels, particularly the eight seniors, have plenty or reasons to be proud.
"Our seniors have nothing to hang their heads about," Guerrero said. "It was a tremendous year, City championship, sectional championship, district championship, first regional appearance, and most wins in school history."