Mason girls basketball coach Rob Matula had a lot of thoughts spill through his head during the second half of a win over Lakota East last week.
The 46-21 victory was never in doubt and was also the 300th in Matula’s coaching career.
“I thought about how lucky I am to have lasted this long, had really great players and assistant coaches along the way to help me out,” Matula said. “And, a family that supports me and the long hours and emotional strife that goes into being successful.
“I’ve been lucky to have players and assistant coaches who bought into what my philosophy was about and that was that we were going to work our tails off on the defensive end and hopefully be in every game so we had a chance to win. Regardless of the talented players that I have coached, I also had unsung players that worked extremely hard to make our programs successful.”
Sitting at 295 heading into the season, Matula knew that 300 would occur sometime soon.
While he did think about it off and on, the 13-year Comet coach was more focused about what was going on with his players on and off the court.
“It’s hard not to think about it but honestly, I think more about my kids, the players, and their well-being,” Matula said. “I want them to be successful and to feel the thrill of winning because of their hard work.
“I’ve always said that winning basketball games, I hope, doesn’t define who I am. There are some coaches in the coaching world that want to be defined by how many wins they have or championships. I really hope to be defined as someone who cared about the people around me.”
Mason led Lakota East 12-2 after the first quarter and 26-7 at the break.
The Comets are 5-2 after a tough 51-50 loss to rival Lakota West in Greater Miami Conference play to close the week.
West jumped to a 16-14 lead after the first quarter, but Mason regained a 29-28 advantage at the break. The Comets entered the fourth quarter down 44-39 but only outscored West 11-7 in the final stanza.
Sade Tucker and Megan Wagner led Mason with 11 points each.
The two teams Mason has lost to this year are a combined 13-1, showing how tough it is to compile wins against a loaded schedule.
“It’s very special. Over the years I have had the honor, both coaching boys and girls, to play/coach against some very talented players and have had the honor of coaching very talented players,” Matula said. To reach this milestone of 300 victories is an honor and, to be honest, a result of being old and lucky.”
Mason and Lakota West split games in the regular season a year ago before the Comets won the rubber match in the regional semis, so one loss to the rival isn’t cause for concern.
“Our players are continually working hard and we are going to make sure we continue to put ourselves in position to win,” Matula said. “In the end, we have to find a way to win our close games by making better decisions in crucial times, not only by the players but also by the coaches. We have prided ourselves on continually working hard to prepare ourselves for a long run in the tournament and we will continue to do that.”
Lebanon 5-1: The Warriors got to see where they want to go in their lone loss of the season.
The young Warriors dropped a 52-35 decision to an experienced Beavercreek squad to fall to 5-1.
“We’ve gotten off to a good start with some very lopsided wins but we are nowhere close to where we want to be,” coach Robert Hodges said. “With a combination of experienced upperclassmen and energetic freshmen and sophomores we are very positive about the direction we are headed by learning every day.
“Our lone loss to Beavercreek is an example of how we are still growing and mixing our players for experience.”
Beavercreek returns eight players, including six seniors.
Lebanon had moved to 5-0 with a 69-35 win over Xenia.
“I have been pleasantly pleased with the depth our team has played with,” Hodges said. “We have been able to maintain players rotating through an 11-man rotation without losing intensity and production during games. During my nine-plus seasons, I have never had a team this deep. And a roster with three seniors lends itself for a great direction for future years.”
Little Miami 4-3: After a 4-1 start, the Panthers have hit a little bit of a bump in the road as they look to defend their Southwest Ohio Conference title.
The Panthers defeated Talawanda 55-46 but dropped two in a row to end the week, including an upset loss to Northwest in conference play.
Little Miami fell to Middletown 58-56, just running out of time in a 22-14 fourth-quarter run.
Sydney Kuritar led the Panthers with 17 points while Kaitlyn Simpkins added 11 and 10 steals and Mariah Clemons finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The game with Northwest got away from the Panthers in the fourth quarter as Northwest closed with a 23-9 final stanza in a 54-49 win.
Kuritar led the way again for Little Miami with 17 points. Simpkins turned in a great all-around game with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals.
Kings 2-4: The Knights fell to 2-4 with losses by 40 to West Clermont and 14 to Loveland
Chandler Kircher is one of three Kings players averaging over nine points a game at 9.8. Jordyn Rhodes (9.5) and Lexie Sparks (9.2) add balance to the attack.