HAMILTON– Julian Mackey showed why he is the GMC’s leading scorer on Tuesday night.
The senior dropped 34 points, 20 in the final period, as the Firebirds beat Mason 74-66. The win is Lakota West’s second of the postseason, a feat they’ve been unable to accomplish since 2007.
It was a gutty win by the Firebirds. Mason didn’t give it to them easy, in fact, they fought to take the lead several times in the second half. Each time the Comets took the advantage, Mackey was right there to hit a shot.
“Julian Mackey was incredible, but you know what? He has been doing it all year long,” said Lakota West head coach Jim Leon. “The first half he struggled. They were bullying him and he got frustrated. Second half he got his head together and came out focused. He did everything he needed to do to take us to a victory.”
There has been discourse this year about who is the best player in the Greater Miami Conference. Whether it is Lakota East’s Nate Johnson or Hamilton’s Trey Robinson. Well, Julian Mackey has to be the best pure scorer in the league.
Mason’s Mitchell Greer, Matthew Smith or Payton Ramsey would knock a huge shot for the Comets. Mackey, would confidently take the ball down the floor and respond. You could tell he was going to carry the Firebirds.
“I was just taking what was coming to me,” said Mackey.
Mackey’s most impressive shot, came shortly after the Firebirds fell behind Mason, 62-63, with a few ticks over two minutes remaining.
Mackey crossed half court, floated over to the right-wing, stepped back and nailed a triple. The Firebirds never seemed to look back.
Mason called a timeout after running their offense for a minute. Coach Richards wanted to draw up a play to get an open look against West’s zone. But, just as they’ve done a couple times before, the Firebirds switched up their defense and resorted to a man– which clearly put a wrinkle in the Comets game plan.
“We just wanted to throw them off,” said Leon. “I’m sure [Coach Richards] was drawing up a play against a zone, so we increased the pressure on them.”
Mason fired a 3-point shot from the corner, and West rebounded. With the board, they swung momentum clearly in their favor, which they rode to a dub.
“Coach Demetrius Wilson is in charge of the defense. I’ll give him all the credit, he made the adjustment,” said Leon.
In the regular season, Mason bested West, so there was certainly a hint of revenge sprinkled into the postseason contest.
Mackey finished with 34 points, he was helped by Carter Combs and Brady Weber each with 12. Tate Fishman had 10 points with 3 assists, while Alex Afari played superb defense. Needless to say, Mackey wasn’t alone on there on the floor.
“Brady Weber, Alex Afari, Tate Fishman, those three guys contributed huge tonight. Carter [Combs] is always a steady hand out there,” said Coach Leon. “In the end, Julian did what Julian does. I’m just happy for our kids.”
The Comets finish their season 13-8 after their exit. West advances to the sectional championship, where they will face Princeton. That game is slated for 7:30 this Friday.
The Firebirds improve their season record to 13-11, which means regardless of what happens they will finish with a winning record.