Comets advance in tournament with win over Lakota West

Shravani Page | Staff Writer

Senior guard Trey Killens (4) pushes the ball up the court as Alex Morton (12) and Michael Molnar (10) sprint up the floor against Lakota West.

‘They’ say it’s almost impossible to beat a team three times in one season.

Well, ‘they’ are wrong.

After knocking off Lakota West 59-46 on Friday, February 26 in the district semi-final game, the Mason Comets proved that a team can be beaten three times in one season. 

They had a good example to follow because earlier in the week they watched the Mason Comets girls basketball team defeat Lakota West for the third time this season to advance. 

The players heard it all week, the coaches tried to distract them from the fact that the Comets knocked off the Firebirds two times during the regular season 79-61 back in December and 75-70 in late January. This game would be different. West was coming off a huge win over Greater Miami Conference champion Fairfield and the Comets escaped with a win over Walnut Hills earlier in the week to set up this crucial win or go home match up. 

The Comets got off to a quick start against the Firebirds, led by senior Eli Jordan who knocked down two three pointers in the opening quarter. Jordan would finish the game with 12 points on top of playing tremendous defensively for Mason. 

West came back in the second quarter, out-scoring the Comets 16-13 to close the gap to 27-25 at the half. Even though the Firebirds would make several attempts to take the lead Mason would hold onto the advantage the entire game despite the scoring effort of their dynamic senior guard Kelvin Turner who finished the game with 25 points. 

The third quarter was another close frame with the Firebirds still within striking distance by the end of the quarter. Mason outdistanced West by three points in the quarter and still held a 38-33 lead going in the final quarter. 

Any thoughts of Lakota West coming back and ending the Comets’ tournament run were extinguished when Mason exploded for 21 fourth quarter points to close out the game with the impressive 59-46 victory. A win that propels the Comets to a Southwest District Championship match up against Centerville on Saturday, March 6 at Lakota West High School. 

The Comets had a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures led by Trey Killens with 14 points, Alex Morton contributed 13 points, Jordan had 12 points, and Matt Smith added 10 points.

While Lakota West’s Turner poured in 25 points, the Comets were able to lock down the Firebirds sophomore sensation Nathan Dudukovich, holding him to seven points. Dudukovich was the Greater Miami Conference’s second leading scorer at 20.4 points per game.  

The Comets knew they had their work cut out for them but according to senior guard Max Johnson the team executed a game plan that they worked on all week. “The team practiced and played really well by following the coach’s game plan that worked to perfection,” Johnson said. 

For senior starter Matt Smith it was a gratifying win for the Comets. “It feels great to beat a team for the third time, after they chose to enter our bracket and felt confident they would beat us,” Smith said. “All that matters is surviving and advancing.” 

Long time assistant coach and former Mason player Kyle Peters didn’t focus too much on the hype over beating an opponent three times. “We have a great team dynamic which is a key to winning because this  team is close on and off the court.” Peters said. “We knew that the team that executes better would  win, and that’s what we saw not only tonight, but the past two games as well.”

The Comets return to a district final where they will play a familiar tournament foe. They will face the Centerville Elks, one of the top teams in the Dayton region. The 21-3 Elks are on an impressive tournament run where they have been dismantling their tournament opponents in the postseason, defeating teams by an average of 36 points per game. 

“We lost to Centerville the last time we were in a district championship, so we are all really excited to have an opportunity at another revenge game,” Smith said. “We just want to keep extending our season and we know Centerville is going to be challenging but with a week of preparation we feel confident about our chances.” 

Photo by Rilee Malloy