Kevin Goheen reports:
Senior forward Kayla McDowell scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while junior forward Jenna Gunn added 14 points and seven rebounds as Mason remained unbeaten and cruised to its 15th consecutive win, 65-43, Thursday night against McAuley.
Mason is the unanimous No. 1 team in this week’s Enquirer Division I coaches’ poll. The Comets are also ranked third in the Associated Press state poll.
McAuley (11-5) is ranked No. 5 in the Enquirer poll but becomes the sixth member of the current top 10 beaten by Mason this season. Sophomore guard Sydney Lambert led McAuley with 16 points.
“Defense has been our main focus this year,” said senior guard Sydney Neal, who had five points, three assists and one steal. “People don’t realize we have so much depth. Even with our subs we’re always going 100 percent and always charging at you. They don’t know what to do because we don’t have just one main player. Everybody on our team has strengths and that makes us a unit.”
Mason had 12 players log at least three minutes of playing time Thursday. Ten of those players scored and 10 players got at least one rebound as the Comets out-rebounded McAuley 43-15.
The Comets led 11-2 midway through the first quarter and were never threatened.
They forced McAuley into 14 turnovers in the first half as they built a 36-21 lead. The led by as many as 23 points, 31-8, with 2:58 left in the half before a 3-pointer by junior guard Makenzie McFelea got the Mohawks into double digits.
Mason’s defense allowed 40 points for just the fourth time this season.
McDowell and Neal are two of the seven seniors for Mason that have been playing together since the fourth grade.
Mason’s final five regular season games will be in the Greater Miami Conference. The Comets (9-0 GMC) currently hold a one-game over Princeton in the league race, with the two scheduled to play at Mason on Feb. 2. Mason has not won a GMC title since it joined the conference in 2007-08.
“This is a team that really has set its sights on winning a GMC title,” said Mason coach Rob Matula. “Then they can concentrate on the dream they’ve had since the fourth grade. They want to give themselves a chance to win a state championship. They know the history but the nice thing about this group is they don’t take anything for granted.”
Mason has won 23 of its last 24 games going back to last season. Its lone loss in that span was a 49-40 setback to Kettering Fairmont in the regional championship game.
Fairmont has won three straight regional titles and been state runner-up to Twinsburg the past two seasons. Twinsburg is ranked No. 1 in the state poll, with Fairmont No. 2.
Matula was presented the game ball from his 200th career win, achieved on Jan. 9 against Fairfield, in a pre-game ceremony. Matula’s teams – including boys’ teams at Talawanda and Sycamore – have now won 202 games. He is now 124-53 in eight seasons at Mason.
McAuley (11-5): Bove 2 0 4, Lambert 6 2 16, McFelea 2 1 6, Egbers 2 0 6, Harris 3 1 7, Pifher 1 2 4. Totals 16 6 43.
Mason (15-0): Herren 1 0 2, Mason 1 0 2, McDowell 9 4 23, Ammons 3 1 7, Melnick 1 0 2, Neal 2 0 5, Van Kleunen 1 2 4, Gunn 5 4 14, Brown 2 0 4, Rotowski 1 0 2. Totals 26 11 65.
McAULEY x6/15/x6/16 43
MASON 17/19/15/14 65
Halftime: Mason 36-21. 3-pointers: MCA – 5 (Lambert 2, Egbers 2, McFelea); MAS – 2 (McDowell, Neal).