Girls basketball tournament run cut short in Regional Final

Eric Michael | Staff Writer

The girls basketball team’s playoff run came to an end in a 41-35 loss in the Regional Final to Mount Notre Dame on March 11.

The Comets came out strong against the Cougars, taking an early lead and maintaining it through the entire first half, which ended with a buzzer-beating three by freshman standout Megan Wagner. The Comets entered halftime with a 17-12 lead.

A defensive-led third quarter allotted only five points for each team, tallying the score at 22-17 entering the final period. With five minutes left, Wagner zoomed by a defender and hit a beautiful euro-step layup to put the Comets up 29-23. On the next possession, MND got the ball and converted a conventional three-point play to make it 29-24. Then MND’s Gabbie Marshall hit a three to climb within two. Seconds later, Marshall was fouled and made two free throws. The game was tied at 29 with four minutes to go.

The Comets quickly found some fire. Ti Fulton scored, then Anna Brinkmann stole the ball and scored to give the Comets a 33-29 lead with three minutes to go. However, Marshall hit another three to bring the Cougars back within one point. With just under two minutes left in the game, MND took the lead. After a Comet foul put MND on the free throw line, Wagner scored to bring Mason within two with only ten seconds left on the clock. But successful free throw attempts by Mount Notre Dame put the game out of reach.The clock struck zero, ending in a six point heartbreaking defeat to end the season for the Comets.

After a trip to the State Championship last year, the season did not end how the girls wanted and expected it to. But a second consecutive trip to the elite eight continued to demonstrate the winning tradition head coach Rob Matula has established for his team. Matula said that while the loss will bite at first, his team played a great season and saw lots of success.

“I am extremely proud of what our team accomplished,” Matula said. “Sharing the GMC title and making it to the Elite 8 should not be taken for granted. It’s hard to continually be among the top programs in the state. It takes a lot of hard work from everyone involved.

GMC Player of the Year Sammie Puisis was a cornerstone of Mason’s success all season. She was disappointed that the season finished the way it did, but she was proud of her team’s accomplishments over the course of the season.

“We fell short of our aspirations, but I am proud of this team,” Puisis said. “They never complained; they just asked what we had to do to win. We had different players step up at different times all year which enabled us to put together a very respectable season. Now everyone is focusing on what we need to do to improve for next year.”

Making deep playoff runs is starting to become tradition for the Comets. Matula said that the winning mentality which is so present on his team is something he can see being passed on from one class to another each year.

“Our deep run is a reflection of what our past players established,” Matula said. “We have had great leadership from past players and our current players realize the magnitude of that. Our players work extremely hard to carry on our tradition and we are looking forward to next year.”