The Mason Girls Basketball team earned a spot in the Regional Final on Wednesday night by defeating #2 ranked Lakota West 44-43, in a thrilling and emotional contest between the two GMC powerhouses. The Comets and Firebirds were meeting for a "rubber match" after splitting games in the regular season and sharing the 2016-17 GMC crown. Last year the schools met in the regional final, with Mason winning handily (49-30). This contest had all the makings of another classic and didn't disappoint.
In a back-and-forth first half that featured six lead changes, four ties and the widest lead was Lakota West’s four-point first-quarter margin, sophomore Sammie Puisis scored eight points to lead the Comets to a 21-18 halftime lead. Puisis went on to lead Mason with 13 points and 5 of 6 from the charity stripe.
Junior Anna Brinkmann logged a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for Mason, which actually took the lead for good at 18-16 on a Puisis bucket in the last two minutes of the first half and led by as many as eight points twice in the third quarter.
In the final quarter Mason had chances to put the game away, but struggled from the free throw line. The Comets went to the line 32 times in the contest, but only sank 18. Meanwhile West was not going away without a fight. A West layup with 16.6 seconds left cut Masons lead to one point. West had a couple more chances to tie or take the lead in the final seconds, but either fouled or turned the ball over. Mason missed two free throw tosses with 3.4 seconds and a West halfcourt heave fell short as the buzzer sounded. Mason hung on to earn their third trip to the Regional Final in the past four seasons.
Of note, several Comets came off the bench to make contributions after an injury to Samari Mowbray. Saylor Norton, Kyra Simmons and Makenzie Dixon played important roles in the Mason win.
The Mason Comets (24-3) ranked fifth in the state will carry the GMC banner into an "Elite Eight" match up with Mt. Notre Dame (23-4) on Saturday night, March 11th @ 7:00 PM at Fairmont High School's Trent Arena. MND, the #4 team in the Enquirer poll, upset McAuley 37-36 in the Regional opener to punch their ticket to the finals.
Its been over 5 years since the two schools played each other in the 2012 post season. Mason defeated MND 44-16 in a first round sectional contest that year to advance. The winner of Saturday's Elite Eight matchup will advance to the OHSAA "Final Four".
CONGRATULATIONS TO MASON SOPHOMORE SAMMIE PUISIS. SHE HAS BEEN NAMED THE ASSOCIATE PRESS SOUTHWEST DISTRICT PLAYER OF THE YEAR!
Congratulations also to senior Samari Mowbray who earned 2nd team All-District