Kevin Kelly reports:
Mason girls’ basketball coach Rob Matula isn’t worried about his players looking ahead to a possible Division I regional final matchup against the only team to have defeated the Comets this season.
“That would be just wonderful if that happened,” Matula said. “But the thing about this group that I think really sets them apart is that they have really been one to be really centrally focused on the game at hand.”
Mason’s opponent in Wednesday’s 8 p.m. regional semifinal at Wright State University’s Nutter Center is a familiar one.
Kettering Fairmont (23-1) defeated the Comets in the regional finals last year and in the regional semifinals in 2011. Ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press Division I statewide poll, the Firebirds’ only loss this season came against Centerville in late January.
Mason won the Enquirer Division I area girls’ basketball coaches’ poll and was No. 4 in the AP state poll. Senior Kayla McDowell (16.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game) and junior guard Jenna Gunn (12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds) lead the Comets (22-1).
“I’ve seen them a number of different times,” Matula said of Kettering Fairmont. “They have two of the finest post players around. They’re bigger and stronger than we are in the post, but I like the match-up. I think from one to five, if we’re not even, maybe they have us a little bit on strength.”
Princeton (19-7) and Centerville (25-1) play at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in the other Division I regional semifinal at Wright State University.
The Vikings, who handed Mason its only loss on Feb. 2, are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the regional tournament and have not lost since junior guard Kelsey Mitchell returned in late January after missing 15 games with a broken bone in her foot. She averages 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
In the Vikings’ district final victory against Winton Woods this past Saturday, Mitchell finished with 33 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals. Junior center Carlie Pogue added 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots in her fourth double-double performance in the past five games.
“I think we’ve been playing pretty well,” Princeton coach Jill Phillips said. “Obviously having Kelsey back has sparked our winning streak. In games that she’s played in, we’re undefeated. She’s a phenomenal player on both ends of the court and I think she makes everybody on our team better.”
Also, Clinton-Massie (21-5) plays Dayton Carroll (21-5) in a Division II regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Middletown Madison (23-2) faces Fayetteville-Perry (24-1) at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in a Division III regional semifinal.