ERIE – Monica DeGasto always thought she could be a shooter for Erie Mason’s girls basketball team.
But what she thought didn’t matter much.
DeGasto had to convince Eagles coach Josh Swiegert that she could shoot.
“I worked extremely hard on 3-pointers,” DeGasto said. “I really wanted to get the green light to shoot them.”
She earned that green light last season and it looks like there will be no stopping her this season as a senior.
PHOTO GALLERY:Airport at Erie Mason girls basketball
DeGasto pumped in four triples on the way to 16 points and helped the Eagles fly past Airport 53-35 in the season opener for both teams Tuesday.
“She put in a lot of effort and time to get ready for her senior season,” Sweigert said of DeGasto. “She’s got confidence. That’s the No. 1 thing. I am proud of her.”
Airport coach Darrell Mossburg knew his squad would be tested by Mason’s Lizzie Liedel, who led the Monroe County Region in scoring last season with an average of nearly 20 points per game.
She lived up to the advance billing with 22 points and 16 rebounds Tuesday.
But DeGasto also made a major impact, falling just 4 shy of her career high for points in a game.
“We saw her on film from last year,” Mossburg said. “We knew she could shoot. We just didn’t get out on her.”
DeGasto had a relatively quiet first half with a 3-pointer and two other baskets, but she quickly squashed any hopes of an Airport comeback in the second half.
She hit a triple to start the third quarter, pushing Mason’s lead to 33-17 and added another basket from beyond the arc a few minutes later. DeGasto also opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a 3-pointer.
She wasn’t on the court much longer than that, drawing her fifth foul midway through the final period.
DeGasto just smiled when she was reminded about fouling out.
“I am a very aggressive player,” she said.
And she knows that she is going to get her shots with every opposing defense focusing on slowing down Liedel.
“Lizzie is a good player,” she said. “She and I play basketball together outside of school.”
Sweigert appreciates the way Liedel concentrates getting her teammates involved and is fearless on the court. Mason’s star went crashing to the floor at least a half dozen times Tuesday after hard drives to the basket.
“She’s a tough kid,” the coach said. “That’s the way she plays.”
Sweigert also praised the intensity of junior Kaylie Bash, who had 3 points and was second on the team to Liedel with 6 rebounds.
“She takes a lot of pride in her defense,” he said.
It was a solid opener for a Mason team that went 13-1 last season and captured the Tri-County Conference championship.
“It was a typical opener,” Sweigert said. “There were a lot of positives and some things we need to work on. We did a lot of things well.”
“I feel like we did well, but didn’t play to our full potential,” she said.
Sweigert said it was good to open against a Huron League team with a nice history of success under Mossburg.
“They are an athletic team,” Mason’s coach said. “And they’re a big team that’s aggressive.”
Lauren Pitock (12 points, 8 rebounds) and twin sisters Mara (9 points, 10 rebounds) and Tara (6 points, 7 rebounds) Szuper all had some nice moments for Airport.
Mossburg also praised the effort of Marissa Boyless.
“In the second half, we played well,” Mossburg said. “I liked our second half. In the first half we were atrocious.”
The Jets struggled with their shooting, but Mossburg’s biggest complaint came on the other end of the floor.
“I want to see better defense,” he said. “We were reaching way too much. She (Liedel) is a good player, but she was dribbling through four or five of our girls. We can’t let that happen.”
Airport won the junior varsity game 37-25.
Mason ; 13 ; 17 ; 11 ; 12 ; - ; 53
Airport ; 6 ; 11 ; 9 ; 9 ; - 35
ERIE MASON: Stevens 0 2-2 2, Worden 2 0-0 4, Bash 0 3-5 3, Liedel 7 (2) 6-12 22, Gallagher 1 0-0 2, Moore 2 0-0 4, DeGasto 6 (4) 0-2 16. Totals 18 (6) 11-21 53.
AIRPORT: M. Szuper 4 (1) 0-0 9, T. Szuper 1 4-10 6, O. Lambrix 0 0-2 0, Pitock 2 (2) 6-7 12, Boyless 0 2-2 2, Drummond 2 0-2 4, Redlin 1 0-0 2. Totals 10 (3) 12-21 35.
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: DeGasto gives Mason a lift in season opener against Airport