Comets defeat Bombers, look to improve defensively

Charlie Mackenzie | Staff Writer

The Mason basketball team silenced the St. Xavier Bombers 59-49 in their first game of the sectional tournament on March 1.

Nothing seemed to be going the Comet’s way during the first quarter. Right off the tip, senior Bobby Jefferson quickly put up two points for the Bombers. Halfway through the first quarter, the Comets found themselves in an uncommon position down 13-3. Junior Noah Pedelty kickstarted Mason’s offensive by draining a three and getting a foul on a layup for a 3-point play. The Comets were able to close the gap to 13-17 after the first quarter, and head coach Greg Richards said the team’s recent injuries and lack of defense caused the early deficit.

“We haven’t played with the consistent team that we’ve had for the last couple weeks,” Richards said. “Getting back continuity with some people was a big start. (St. X) came out and made shots, and we didn’t defend very well.”

Senior Eddie Puisis, who is Mason’s top offensive scorer,   averaging just over 17 points per game, took the hardwood for the first time after being out for the last two games due to an ankle injury. Although Puisis only had nine points to show for the night, Richards said that his presence helped the team on both sides of the ball.

“I give him credit because he’s not 100 percent, but he wanted to be out there for his teammates,” Richards said. “It creates bigger gaps for others too because they have to go out and guard him and know that he’s a threat. It worked out that Pedelty got some shots because of that, and we were able to stretch them out defensively, which is why we got so many offensive rebounds.”

Senior Matt King continued the Comets’ momentum going into the second quarter with a quick three. After trailing the entire game, Mason leveled the score at 25 apiece with 2:30 left before the half. With 30 seconds remaining, King, who had 17 points on the night, sunk a three to put the Comets up 32-29 at the half. Richards said that in the locker room he stressed the importance of doing a better job defensively.

“They shot 60 or so percent from the field, and that’s not typical Mason basketball,” Richards said. “I thought we did a better job of getting out on shooters and making it tough to enter it in the post to their bigs.”

The Bombers pieced together a small comeback of their own, but the lead was short lived. After consecutive threes, St. X took a 35-34 advantage. King put up another three, finishing the night shooting 60 percent from behind the arc. As the third quarter came to a close, Mason had a 44-40 lead. After the rough start, Richards said that the seniors displayed what it takes to be successful in the postseason.

“I think we have some really good senior leaders who are going to make sure that everybody understands what it is going to take for a tournament run,” Richards said. “I just credit the seniors for that.”

With 4:28 remaining, senior Gage Hammann electrified the St. X bench with a three point play from a foul on a layup, cutting Mason’s advantage to 49-42. As the clock ticked down, the Bombers began testing Mason at the line, but the Comets ran out the clock. Next on Mason’s docket is the Lakota East Thunderhawks, a fellow Greater Miami Conference powerhouse and rival. In their last two meetings this season, the Comets have come out on top by 14 and 15 points, respectively. Richards said that although the last games have been won handily, East will come out with a chip on their shoulder.

“They always say it’s tough to beat a team three times,” Richards said. “We are going to have our hands full. Both teams are very familiar with each other, so I think it’s about who can defend better on that end.”