COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mason girls' basketball coach Rob Matula won't soon forget the significance of this season.
Even though Pickerington Central defeated the Comets 62-48 in a Division I state semifinal Friday night, the Mason team isn't defined by one game.
"I told them in the locker room that, in the 30 years I have been lucky enough to coach and teach this group, this is by far the best group of kids that you would want to represent your school and community," Matula said. "It was enjoyable every day."
Senior forward Tihanna Fulton echoed that sentiment. She won't soon forget the experience.
"I formed bonds with each and every one of them that nobody will ever be able to replace," Fulton said. "I think that's my most favorite part. Being a part of the basketball team, you are surrounding yourself with great people on and off the court."
Mason (24-4), ranked No. 7 in the season's final Associated Press Division I statewide media poll, returned to Columbus for the first time since 2016 when it was a Division I state runner-up.
It was the fifth state tournament appearance for Mason. The Comets won the state title in 2000. The Comets were also state runners-up in 1999 and 1997.
Matula couldn't say enough to compliment the Comets. Their effort was there all night and during the tournament run.
"The way they represented their community and their school -- it was fun to watch the excitement," Matula said.
Mason was led by junior guard Sammie Puisis, who had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Comets. Fulton had 11 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
"This year was definitely one of the best years I've had so far," said Puisis, one of two active players on the 2016 state runner-up team.
No. 1 Pickerington Central (27-2) plays No. 6 Solon (26-2) in the Division I state final at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.
Pickerington Central was led by junior guard Madison Greene with 25 points and six rebounds Friday night. Junior forward/guard Maliya Perry had 13 points and nine rebounds.
It was a memorable month of March for Mason. The Comets defeated Lakota West 54-51 March 10 to win the Division I regional title in front of 3,100 at Trent Arena.
The Comets shared the Greater Miami Conference championship with Lakota West for a second straight season.
This weekend marked the fifth consecutive season an area Division I girls' basketball team was in the state Final Four. Those teams included Mason (2018 state semifinalist), Mount Notre Dame (2017 state champion), Mason (2016 state runner-up), Lakota West (2015 state champion) and Princeton (2014 state champion).