WILMINGTON — Mason survived a furious fourth quarter comeback bid by Wilmington Wednesday night to post a 44-41 win in a non-conference game at Fred Summers Court.
With the victory in the matchup of Div. I powers, Mason improved to 5-1 while the Hurricane falls to 5-3.
“I can’t say enough about their effort in the second half,” WHS head coach Michael Noszka said of his squad. “No doubt they played extremely hard and came up just short against a very tough team. We continue to find our identity on a daily basis, like I said earlier, and tonight was no different. We learned a valuable life-lesson tonight. When you get knocked down, like we did in that first half, you’ve got to bounce back, and I knew our kids were resilient.”
After Wilmington jumped out to an early lead at 4-2, the Comets reeled off 9 unanswered points and grabbed a 15-9 first quarter advantage.
The Comets outscored Wilmington by a 19-6 margin in the second quarter, enabling Mason to take what seemed to be a commanding 34-15 lead at the intermission.
“We got on them pretty good at halftime for not playing ‘Wilmington basketball’ in that first half,” Noszka said. “They (Mason) were controlling the game and we missed way too many chances to try and cut into their lead.”
In the second half, thought, it was the Hurricane’s turn to pour it on and tighten the score. Wilmington outscored Mason 19-5 in the third period to pull within five points, 39-34, at the break.
Hurricane senior Alex Wright drained a corner trey with just under two minutes remaining in regulation slicing the deficit to only 42-38.
Unfortunately Wilmington managed to get one point closer in the final minute and Dylan Beaugard’s desperation corner trey attempt for the tie came up short at the buzzer.
Wilmington was 7 for 15 at the free throw line, including just 4 of 8 in the final period.
Mason, however, was worse at the line, hitting 1 of 9 for the game and going 0 for 5 in the fourth quarter.
“I think we were pressing from the line,” Noszka said. “When you are trailing in the game and you’re anxious to make that free throw, sometimes you rush that shot and I believe that’s what happened to us. We just have to get better at making them, especially in crucial moments. Plus, we had our opportunities for a couple of three-point attempts late in the game and we just did not convert them.”
Mason’s Noah Pedelty led all scorers with 19 points, including 4 treys. Carlos Lewis added 9 points for the Comets, all coming in the first half. Mason played without standout senior Eddie Puisis, who was not present due to a family commitment.
For Wilmington, Dylan Beaugard was the high scorer with 14 points, including 10 third quarter points which ignited the Hurricane comeback. Jeffery Mansfield followed with 10 points, including 8 in the first half.
This closes out the 2016 portion of the schedule for the Hurricane, as they will be idle until one week from Friday, when they host Hillsboro in South Central Ohio League action at Fred Summers Court.
December 28, 2016
@Fred Summers Court
Mason 44 Wilmington 41
(44) MASON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) King 4-0-0-8 Schutte 4-0-0-8 Lewis 4-1-0-9 Knue 0-0-0-0 Pedelty 7-4-1-19. TOTALS 19-5-1-44
(41) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Wolary 3-1-0-7 Mansfield 4-0-2-10 Beaugard 5-1-3-14 Smith 2-1-0-5 Gauche 0-0-0-0 Wright 1-1-0-3 Griffith 0-0-2-2. TOTALS 15-4-7-41
Bill Liermann covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet