You could still hear it in his voice…the exhaustion was still there one day after returning home from Kingsport, Tennessee. It was a grind that Mike Mastin had never experienced before either as a basketball player or as a coach.
Mastin, who is the Tecumseh seventh-grade girls’ basketball coach, was in Tennessee as the head coach of the Dayton Lady Hoopstars 7th grade AAU basketball team, a team that included Tecumseh eighth graders Mae Mastin and Serenity Castle. That team continued the long tradition of success by the Hoopstars as they brought home the National Championship on Friday night after a hard fought 50-40 win over Potomac Valley after coming back from a halftime deficit for the win.
Also on the roster was assistant coach Chris Moore, who was a classmate of Mastin at Tecumseh in 1991, and is also the Director of Basketball Operations with the Hoopstars.
“It is so overwhelming, Mastin said sitting his home and trying to soak it all in. “We had worked so hard to get there, so when you finally make it to that point and you win, you are overwhelmed with emotions because you don’t realize what you have done until you get into the car and drive home.”
“We had a lot of girls who shed some tears because they didn’t realize what this team had done, and I was overwhelmed emotionally because it was so special to me because I had a daughter on the team.”
In addition to Mastin and Castle, the remainder of the roster included Kendall Knisley and Dreann Price of Bellbrook, Austy Miller of Bradford, Caraline Kernan and Coti McMahon of Centeville, Macie Taylor of Troy, Holly Lefeevers and Maci Rhoades of Beavercreek, Anna Long of Miamisburg.
The Hoopstars made it through pool play undefeated, which was no small task according to Mastin.
“Go Hard in the Paint finished seventh in the country, Memphis War Eagles finished tenth and Indiana Thunder finished 11th,” Mastin said. “Our pool was really good and we felt good coming out.” “We really liked out draw in bracket play, and our goal was to make it to the final four. Once you make it that far, anything can happen.”
In bracket play, Dayton defeated the Massachusetts Migs 58-44.
“They were a scrappy team, and our goal was to take care of the ball,” Mastin said. “Offensively, we worked on driving to the basket and several players did well. We have a balanced attack.”
“Our goal was to take away the other teams biggest threats, and our team did that.”
Also in bracket play, the Hoopstars defeated Cincinnati Thunder and earned revenge from their loss to the Thunder at the state tournament. Mastin’s group got the win 53-36.
In the elite eight, the local squad defeated North Tartans from Minnesota 48-46 despite leading by double figures most of the game before the Tartans hit some late threes.
Then came the game that pitted the Hoopstars against the two-time defending national champs from Alabama, the Southern Starz and the Hoopstars earned the win to send them to the championship game.
“We were in control from the tip,” Mastin said. “Coti took over the game and scored 25 points for us.”
In the finals, the Hoopstars trailed at halftime for the first time in the tournament before coming back to earn the monumental win.
“We were missing shots early that we usually don’t miss,” Mastin said. “They are well coached and do a great job taking care of the ball.”
“Being down at halftime was different for us, and in the second half, we were down by seven points which was situation we had not been in. We moved Coti in the post which is something we had not done, and she scored immediately and it got her going.”
Coaching his daughter was a great memory for Mastin, and her contributions, along with Castle were big for the team.
“Going through this whole process with my daughter was special,” he said. “Mae did a nice job talking to her teammates and asserting herself as a leader. It was like having a coach on the floor. She took care of the ball and being a lockdown defender.”
“Serenity did a great job for us, and increased her skills as the season went on. Both of the Tecumseh kids did a great job for us.”
Mastin pushed the ‘repeat’ talk to the side, as he was wanting to spend some time to enjoy this championship before worrying about next spring.