Mason's Sarah Ammons (20), Sydney Neal (25), Jenna Gunn (32), Kayla McDowell (15) and Aly Herron and the rest of the Comets celebrate their 47-32 win against Sycamore in Thursday's OHSAA Division I girls' regional semifinal game at Wright State's Nutter Center.
Mark Schmetzer reports:
Mason junior Kayla McDowell said the Comets drew little to no motivation from their regular-season loss to Sycamore when the two Greater Miami Conference teams clashed Thursday night in a Division I regional semifinal game.
“We just saw them as another team we needed to beat if we wanted to continue our season,” McDowell said.
Mason’s season will continue. The Comets rode a stifling defense to their first regional championship appearance since the 2000 team won the state title, limiting the Aviators to 21.6 percent shooting (11-of-51) in a 47-32 win at Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center.
Mason's Kayla McDowell (15) and Sydney Neal battle for the rebound against Sycamore's Chloe Pavlech.
The 6-foot-2 McDowell led both teams with 19 points, including 9-of-9 on free throws, and 15 rebounds and junior Jenna Gunn added 10 points, but Sycamore coach Paula Hayden left no doubt that Mason’s defense was the difference.
“A big part of it was the pressure they put on us,” Hayden said. “They made us take shots that were not our typical shots. Mason forced us to do that.”
The Comets (18-6), ranked third in the Enquirer’s Division coaches poll, will take an eight-game winning streak into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. regional championship game against Kettering Fairmont at Wright State.
The Firebirds (22-3), ranked 10th in the Associated Press Division I statewide poll, eliminated No. 9 and Enquirer No. 2 Princeton (21-4), 57-52, in Thursday’s nightcap.
Thursday’s game wasn’t a complete reversal of Sycamore’s 49-25 win in what was Mason’s opener and Sycamore’s second game of the regular season, Comets coach Rob Matula said.
“They were in total control,” he said.
“We were just playing together, and our defense was much better,” McDowell said of the rematch.
Seniors Chloe Pavlech and Lauren Hancher each scored 10 points to lead Sycamore (23-2), the Enquirer poll champion. The Aviators had a 21-game winning streak snapped after shooting 1-for-16 from the field in the fourth quarter. The only field goal was Pavlech’s 3-pointer with three minutes left, which bounced high off the rim before falling through.
“That was our best defense of the season,’ McDowell said, giving much of the credit to junior guard Sydney Neal. “Syndey’s ball pressure was amazing.”
Mason actually committed four more turnovers than Sycamore, 20-16, but the Comets’ defense allowed the Aviators to score just three points off of the miscues while Mason scored 15.
The Comets survived a nine-turnover first quarter to open the second quarter with a 10-0 run on their way to a 20-16 halftime lead. The Aviators didn’t score in the second quarter until junior guard-forward Hannah Locke connected on a putback with 36 seconds remaining.
Mason never trailed after McDowell banked in an 8-foot jump shot from the left wing for a 14-12 lead with 5:29 left in the second quarter.
Mason went 10-for-10 on free throws in the last 2:25, led by McDowell’s 6-of-6. The Comets went 20-of-27 for the game.
Sycamore (23-2) – Locke 3 2 8, Newbolt 0 2 2, Pavlech 3 2 10, Outlaw 0 1 1, McDonald 0 1 1, Hancher 5 0 10. Totals: 11 8 32.
Mason (18-6) – Glover 2 3 7, McDowell 5 9 19, Herron 2 2 7, Neal 0 2 2, Gunn 3 4 10, Ammons 1 0 2. Totals: 13 20 47.
Halftime: Mason, 20-16. 3-pointers: S 2 (Pavlech 2), M 1 (Herron).
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