No Puisis, No Problem;Comets earn share of GMC Title with 61-54 win over Lakota West

Joey Deaton | Staff Writer

The Mason Girls Basketball team defeated Lakota West 61-54 to earn a share of the Greater Miami Conference (GMC) title.

The Comets did so without leading scorer Sammie Puisis, who averages 18 points per game and is a verbal commit to Florida State. Head coach Rob Matula said despite Puisis’ absence, his team came ready to play.

“I didn’t have to tell them anything,” Matula said. “I walked in prior to the pregame and they were so confident. There was no ‘Aw Sammie’s not here’. They know how valuable she is to us, but they were unbelievably confident. It gave me a sense of calmness. I was the one probably freaking out more than them. But they handled it. I honestly didn’t tell them anything (about Sammie), I just said “We got to go out and do what we do and battle’”.

Starting in place of Puisis was sophomore Alanna Carter, who before Saturday’s contest was averaging 5 points off the bench for the Comets. Carter said she just wanted to bring forth effort and scoring to replace Puisis.

“I just wanted to come in with energy,” Carter said. “I knew that we were going to have to make up for her scoring because she’s such a prolific scorer. I just had to bring energy and I feel like we all did that great as a team.”

At the end of the first quarter, Mason trailed the Firebirds 13-11. By the half, the Comets had pulled ahead by one, 27-26.

In the third quarter, after a very fast paced first half that included 25 turnovers combined from the two teams, the Comets switched into a 2-3 zone defensively as opposed to the first half when they played man to man. Matula said this was to try and slow the game down.

“We were tired,” Matula said. “I was trying to give us a little time to breathe and make them maybe slow down a little bit on their offense. Sometimes as a coach you just take chances and hope it works out.”

In the closing moments of the third quarter, Mason led West by a point, 46-45. Then, senior Anna Brinkmann drove the length of the floor before having the ball poked out from behind. After recovering, Brinkmann passed the ball back to Carter, who calmly lined up a three-pointer from five feet beyond the arc and drilled it to give the Comets a 4 point lead going into the fourth.

Carter said she just wanted to do whatever necessary to win.

“I just had to give it all,” Carter said. “I wanted that more than anything. I’m just happy we got the win.”

With a minute to play, junior Sade Tucker swished a three-ball from the top of the key to give the Comets a four point lead — one that they would not lose. The Comets added a few free throws in the closing seconds and several defensive stops to take the win by a final of 61-54.

Carter finished with a game-high and career-high 19 points as well as three steals. Senior Ti Fulton contributed 17 points and nine boards, while Brinkmann put in nine points and six rebounds. Sophomore Megan Wagner also had six points, six assists and five rebounds.

Matula said the team is beginning to play together very well after missing Carter earlier in the season to injury.

“Alanna’s been really improving,” Matula said. “Unfortunately for her, she got a concussion and missed five games so it’s almost as if we finally got everybody together and it just feels like we’re plugging all the pieces of the puzzle in.”

When asked about staying calm through the heavy swings of the game, Carter, who was playing in her first varsity game against West, said she just focused on wanting to win.

“I really wasn’t (controlling my emotions). I was out there screaming and yelling, but I knew I just wanted to win and that’s all I wanted so I just had to bring energy, keep my composure at the end, and we won, so I’m pretty happy.”

The Comets finished the regular season 19-3, 15-1 in Conference and will share the GMC title with the Firebirds, who got the better of the Comets way back on December 16. Mason will open postseason play February 21 at Lakota East against the winner of Mount Healthy and Milford.

Photos by Staff Writer Yogesh Patel.