James Nosek | Press Box Perspectives Editor/ Columnist
Tim Reale hit it right on the mark.
“Knowin we were better than most teams playin tonight <<<” was the senior guard’s tweet last night. Now there’s only one explanation for what he’s talking about, and I’m sure he’s not comparing his Mason varsity team to Duke, North Carolina or Kentucky, which were college teams who played last night.
Last night at University of Dayton Arena eight teams were playing for a District I championship and sadly, Mason wasn’t one of them.
Withrow, the team Mason almost defeated last Sunday to win a sectional championship, won against Springboro. Fairfield, a fellow GMC team that Mason beat twice in the regular season, defeated Troy. Then there was Middletown, a team Mason upset on the second to last game of the regular season to keep their GMC title hopes alive, winning against Princeton. And lastly Moeller, a team Mason never had a chance to play but would have given them a great fight if they did, defeated Beavercreek by three points last night.
Withrow, Fairfield, Middletown and Moeller advanced to the regional semi-finals with their heads held high. And the Mason boys’ varsity basketball team will have to look at page 11 of the Cincinnati Enquirer’s sports section with a big visual of Middletown holding up gold.
It’s sad because this seemed like the year that could have reversed everything. It felt like Mason could have been in those four team’s shoes after their great 18-4 campaign.
Reale’s tweet sums up the playoff situation pretty well though.
I know everyone in the Mason community, and obviously the team, wanted to defeat Withrow in the sectional finals. It was a nightmare that they had to go through the same situation as last season, because remember that the Comets have lost to the Tigers in the third round of the sectional tournament the last two years in a row.
Let’s say Mason did out play Withrow in the fourth quarter and won, they would have played Springboro last night. The only other time Mason saw Springboro on the same court was in a scrimmage before the season began. Who cares about the scrimmage right? Well, if you do care, Mason played decent in it. But it doesn’t matter if they won or lost. They were without starting guard JD Sprague, forwards Todd Reed and Kevin Niehoff and junior Connor McVey. If the Comets had a chance to play Springboro in Dayton last night, at full strength, I believe they would have beaten them and I know the team feels the same way.
Then looking at the other side of the bracket, Fairfield defeated Troy. In reality, they will play Withrow on Wednesday March 14 (8 pm) at the Cintas Center.
Staying with the “what if” example, Mason could have been playing Fairfield for a chance to advance to the regional finals. And I bet we would have seen a “three peat” against the Indians, no doubt.
But that’s where I’ll stop.
We could keep going on and on about the “what ifs.” Everyone knows what happened and what could have happened.
They had a great year, not just for their record but for their dedication as a unit. It’s sad that it happened but everyone will move on eventually.
Just like senior Michael Van Kleunen said after the loss, the Comets’ season was a “hell of a ride.”
And that’s worth so much more than being printed on page 11.