By Jeff Wallner, Enquirer contributor
Balanced scoring and aggressive defense lifted the Mason Comets boys basketball team to an impressive Great Miami Conference victory Friday night.
Junior guard Cameron Arminio and junior center Rodney Hutchinson each scored 13 points and senior guard Adam Thomas added 10, lifting Mason, ranked No. 8 in the Enquirer Division I coaches’ poll, to a 59-46 victory at 5th-ranked Lakota East.
Lakota East guard Alex White led all scorers with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He was 8-for-11 shooting.
“They’ve got so many weapons out there,” said Mason coach Greg Richards. “We talked about our defense the past two weeks. For the most part we took care of the ball when we had to. It was two good teams. In the GMC you better be ready to play.”
Mason had difficulty defending White during much of Friday’s game, beginning with the first quarter in which the 6-foot-7 junior scored eight points for the Thunderhawks.
The Mason student section was relentless with junior G Mitchell Mays, who led all scorers with 20 points when the teams met in December. He silenced them with a pair of 3-pointers in the first half Friday and finished with eight points.
The Comets had eight different players in the scoring column in the first half. Just three players scored for the Thunderhawks including White who scored 10 of their 21 points.
“We passed the ball nicely, and found a lot of open looks,” said Arminio. “Coach stressed defense in practice. We got out on their shooters.”
Senior forward Matt King hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, putting Mason ahead 32-24 early in the second half.
Arminio hit four consecutive free throws after a personal foul and subsequent technical foul call on East to put the Comets ahead 38-26 late in the third quarter.
He added a 3-pointer from the right corner to make the score 45-30 early in the fourth quarter.
STAR OF THE GAME: White had a big night, albeit in a losing cause. In addition to being 8-of-11 with 18 points, he also was 2-for-2 from the free throw line and had three blocked shots.
VIEW FROM THE SIDELINE: Richards said White might’ve had a similarly big night in the first meeting had it not been for foul trouble. He scored 10 points in the December matchup before fouling out. “He’s a tough matchup no matter what you try on defense,” Richards said.
ODD AND ENDS: The Comets defeated Lakota East 60-51 on Dec. 10. … The Thunderhawks have won four of the previous seven meetings. … Mason shot 60 percent in the first quarter Friday night and didn’t cool off much after that, finishing 20-of-42 for 48 percent. … the Comets forced 13 turnovers and had nine steals.
Mason (10-3, 5-3 GMC) – Thomas 2 5 10, Rice 3 1 7, Orlando 1 1 3, Arminio 4 4 13, Hutchinson 5 3 13, King 3 0 7, Beebe 10 3, Cline 1 1 3. Totals: 20 16 59
Lakota East (11-5, 6-3 GMC) – Bah 1 4 6, Mays 3 0 8, Lowry 2 2 6, White 8 2 18, Blount 2 2 6. Totals: 17 10 46.
3-pointers: M 3 (Arminio, Thomas, King), LE 2 (Mays 2).