KETTERING, Ohio – The Mason girls’ basketball team is going to Columbus for the first time since 2000.
The Comets defeated Lakota West 49-30 in a Division I regional final at Fairmont High School Saturday night.
The Comets (25-2) play Solon (18-8) at 8 p.m. March 11 in a state semifinal at Ohio State University’s Value City Arena.
“For the kids – they worked hard, they believed, followed the game plan and they believed,” Mason coach Rob Matula said. “It’s sweet. I am happy for them.”
Mason, ranked No. 5 in the season’s final Associated Press statewide poll, was led by senior forward Lauren Van Kleunen, who had a game-high 19 points to go along with nine rebounds.
“As you can see I am very emotional right now,” Van Kleunen said. “These four years all coming together…it came down to this moment and it finally worked out.”
Junior Samari Mowbray had 12 points. Senior forward Mariah Campbell had seven points and nine rebounds.
The Comets will be in the state semifinals for the first time since the 2000 season when Mason won the Division I state championship.
“It feels amazing,” Mowbray said. “It’s such an honor.”
Mason and Lakota West played for the third time this season. The Firebirds won the previous two meetings in the regular season but the Comets prevailed tonight.
Mason shot 40 percent from the field including 4 of 9 on 3-pointers. Lakota West (26-2) shot 25.5 percent from the field including 1 of 13 from 3-pointers.
Mason’s zone defense stopped Lakota West from dribble penetration and the Comets held a 17-2 advantage on points off turnovers.
Mason held a 13-11 first quarter lead and led 26-18 at halftime. The Firebirds held the lead just once – a 5-4 advantage at the 6:25 mark of the first quarter.
Mason extended its lead to 37-23 at the end of the third and held Lakota West without a field in the fourth quarter until the 3:17 mark.
“If we can’t be there (in Columbus), who better than them (Mason),” Lakota West coach Andy Fishman said.
Fishman said he is very proud of the Firebirds and the seniors’ legacy. The seniors had a 96-14 record, Fishman said, including the 2015 state title.
“They put our program in national prominence,” Fishman said. “Every year they’ve been here we’ve had a chance to legitimately compete for a state championship in our minds. It’s a bad night for things to not go even remotely well. We have to be gracious in defeat.”
Lakota West sophomore Abby Prohaska had 15 points and six rebounds on the night.
Fishman said he is incredibly proud of this group.
“Our seniors – I can’t say enough about all of them,” Fishman said.