Bryan Hudnell | Staff Writer
Put up the banner.
After a 44-38 victory against the Centerville Elks, the Mason boys basketball team secured its first District championship in 24 years and the program’s first title at the Division I level.
Head Coach Greg Richards has been coaching the Comets for more than two decades and has amassed more than 300 wins during his tenure at Mason. His teams of the past have had a difficult time getting over the hump of securing a District title. With the win against Centerville, Richards adds another prestigious achievement to his already impressive resume.
After the Comets finished second in the Greater Miami Conference, Richards pushed his team to still find a way to be immortalized in school history, and a District Championship accomplishes just that.
“It’s been a long time,” Richards said. “We talked about putting up this year’s numbers up on the banner and we weren’t able to do that in our league, so we had to do it somewhere else. We choose today to do it.”
During his tenure at Mason, Richards built hundreds of relationships with his players and assistant coaches, which have played a prominent role in his life.
“It’s more about the kids than it is for me,” Richards said. “I’m just along for the ride to be honest. I’ve been blessed, not just with the kids but with the coaches too. I got everyone of these guys as assistants who were former players of mine and I think that’s pretty special.”
After a loss to Princeton on January 31, the Comets have won eight straight games, five of those games by double digits. Richards credited the senior class for leading the team throughout the season.
“They’re pretty special kids,” Richards said. “The number of wins they put up doesn’t even measure what kind of kids they are. I’m not ready to see them go just yet.”
Senior Eddie Pusis scored a game high 21 points on an efficient 63 percent shooting. Pusis said Richards has become a significant role model in his life.
“He’s the best,” Pusis said. “He comes in here every day as motivated as we are to win the next game. He’s taught me so much over the last four years so (this win) was all for him, and I can’t thank him enough.”
Fellow senior Carlos Lewis echoed Pusis and believes the District win was long overdue for Richards.
“I’m so happy for him,” Lewis said. “He has been the best coach that I’ve ever had. He makes everyone great on and off the court. He deserved this win.”
When asked what Mason Basketball meant to him, Richards teared up and put it just below his loved ones.
“Expect for my family, (Mason Basketball means) pretty much everything,” Richards said.
The game was a tooth and nail, wire to wire, all-out fight to the end. The Comets headed into the fourth quarter with only a 32-31 lead. Junior Noah Pedelty stepped up big early in the quarter with five points and a key block on Centerville.
With 4:30 remaining in the game, Pusis found a lane to the basket and converted a layup to give the Comets a 39-33 lead, their largest of the game at that point. To close the game, Pusis iced the game with Mason’s last five points on free throws. After the game, Puisis acknowledged the magnitude of the victory.
“It means so much,” Pusis said. “Every year we come into practice and this was our goal. (A district championship) is really what we wanted next and we came out and achieved that.”
Check it out on the CSPN: http://thecspn.com/?p=42349
Also check it out in Volume: 14, Issue: 7 of The Chronicle.