WEST CHESTER TWP. — Lakota West High School’s Dominique Camp made the most of her first exposure to the Firebirds’ always gritty rivalry with Mason.
The senior transfer from Huber Heights Wayne went 6-for-6 from the field and set single-game career highs with 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead West to a 57-48 Greater Miami Conference girls basketball win over the Comets on Wednesday on the Firebirds’ home court.
She helped make up for the limited availability of freshman guard and team scoring leader Chance Gray, limited to six points — less than half her 13.5 average — and just under 23 minutes by a split lip suffered early in the game.
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“I was really excited about it,” said the 5-foot-9 Camp, who plays with a brace on her right knee, the result of an injury that cost her significant time last season for the Warriors. “I was excited to get a chance to show my teammates and my coaches what I could do in a tournament game.”
The game wasn’t a tournament event, but it had the intensity that is common to this rivalry, in which the two teams have split the last 10 games.
West (11-1, 7-1) led the whole way after taking a 4-2 lead with 5:46 left in the first quarter and enjoyed a 15-point margin in the third quarter, but Mason senior Sammie Puisis scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Comets (7-3, 5-2) cut the lead to five points in the final minute before senor guards Jaydis Gales and Sydney Benning each sank two free throws. Gales scored all six of her points on six free throws.
“I don’t know if it’s always going to be like this, but it seems like you can change the names on the roster and you know you’re still going to have a battle every time,” said Firebirds coach Andy Fishman, who can log career win No. 400 on Saturday against Colerain at West. “You always know what you’re going to get.”
While the Firebirds had to overcome going 0-for-11 on 3-point shots, Mason was hurt by shooting 34 percent from the field (17-of-50) and 47.8 percent (11-of-23) on free throws.
“We had the opportunity to stop momentum and gain momentum,” Comets coach Rob Matula said. “It’s called free throws. It’s a simple game. It usually comes down to three things — making free throws, playing good defense and rebounding. You can’t play a good team and shoot (34) percent from the field and (48) percent on free throws and expect to win.
“I’m not discouraged,” he added. “I’d rather play 22 games like this. I’m looking down the road. We have to get seasoned.”
Mason went into the game with losses by one point at Princeton and by 19 at Fairmont. The Firebirds’ only loss of the season was 53-48 at Fairfield. They’ve won nine straight since then.
The Comets committed six turnovers in the first quarter, leading to eight West points as the Firebirds opened up a 10-point lead before settling for an 18-12 advantage going into the second quarter. Mason scored the first three points of the second quarter before West ended the half on an 8-0 run for a 26-15 lead.
Camp led the Firebirds with eight points and six rebounds. The Firebirds pulled in 11 boards, matching Mason’s rebound total for the half.
The Comets are scheduled to play at Hamilton on Saturday and at home against Lakota East next Wednesday. After playing Colerain, the Firebirds will travel to Princeton on Wednesday for their only game of the season against the first-place Vikings.
Mason and West are due to meet at Mason on Feb. 2.
Lakota West 18-8-14-17—57
MASON (7-3, 5-2 GMC): Sade Tucker 0 1 1; Alanna Carter 3 3 9; Megan Wagner 3 2 8; Catherine Cary 1 0 3; Sammie Puisis 6 5 19; Marilyn Popplewell 4 0 8. Totals: 17-11-48
LAKOTA WEST (11-1, 7-1 GMC): Jaydis Gales 0 6 6; Bryana Henderson 4 0 8; Chance Gray 2 2 6; Sydney Benning 1 3 5; Dominique Camp 6 2 14; Kylie Zurlinden 1 0 2; Kailyn Dudukovich 2 2 6; Nevaeh Dean 3 4 10. Totals: 19-19-57
3-pointers: M 3 (Puisis 2, Cary)