Falling in Love with B-ball

Mason Smart’s favorite color is purple, so that is what she
wore to prom this year. But when she is on the basketball court,
Mason wears Joshua High School’s royal blue, black and white
uniform with pleasure. She gets a kick out of the game, you see.

And when she wins, she gets pretty excited.
Mason was so into a game against Richland High School last
December, she did not know the reason for the raucous applause
that followed a goal she made — until after the game. That is when
she learned her mother had hyped everyone up because that point
was the thousandth point of her high school basketball career.
Supportive parents are half the battle for an athlete, like
Mason, who has played basketball since third grade and is now
considering scholarships offered by several different colleges.
Since the age of 10, Mason has played on select teams.

“We start playing in March, doing nearby tournaments until the school
year is over, and then we travel. We have sold candy bars and
run carwashes, but most of the time our parents helped fund the
travel to places all over the United States, where college scouts
are watching. Our goal is to get assigned to colleges by the end
of our senior year,” Mason explained.

Mason is a self-proclaimed homebody and plans to study and
play in Texas. Not only will she stay close to her family, but she
enjoys hanging out with her friends, whom she calls “the best
people in the world.” She also has a horse to come home to.

“I actually have less and less time to do that now,” said Mason,
who was a competitive rider between the ages of 9 and 13. She
learned a lot in that sport, most importantly the philosophy of
competition: “When you fall, you have to get back up again —
no matter how hard it is!”

Her own high school team has gotten back in the saddle for
years. One of Mason’s most exciting moments in basketball was
two years ago, when she was a sophomore. “Our high school
team made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, and then we
made it three rounds — which is the furthest they’d gone in an
even longer amount of time,” she said.

As a team builder and natural leader, Mason has helped
everybody on the team get up to speed this year. “There were a
lot of new additions to the team,” she explained, “and everyone
has played well and come together. On the court, I encourage
people to do their best and give constructive criticism to help
them improve their game and confidence.”

Maybe her teammates accept constructive criticism from
Mason because she is a senior, and maybe they think she knows
what she is doing. “I try to do everything to the best of my
ability,” said Mason, who believes the
three keys to the team’s success are hard
work, putting in the time and dedication.
“Everyone around you is getting better
all the time. You’ll get left in the dust if
you don’t work hard. You gotta stay on
top of your game,” Mason said. “There
is no goofing off. You gotta focus. We
try to get everyone together and put the
phones away about 20 minutes before
each game. We go shoot during half time
of the game before us, and we focus in
the last quarter. For about 10 minutes
before the game, the coach talks to us
about strategy.”

This year, Mason’s strategy has been to
work hard to play strong defense. “I am
what coaches consider a jump shooter,”
Mason said. “However, they say that
shooters are a dime a dozen.
“Defense is mostly what college
coaches are looking for. Since I’m really
an offensive-minded person, I’m trying to
change that and become more defensiveminded.
So in practice, I get lower, move
my feet faster, try to stop people with the
ball. Defense is pretty much all mental,”
Mason added. “You have to believe in
yourself and stop ’em with your quickness.”
Enjoying the senior’s privilege of late
arrival, Mason gets up at 8:30, after her
late study nights, and comes to school
daily for four classes before two-and-ahalf
hours of basketball practice begins
every afternoon. Her course load is tough
(one Advanced Placement classes and
three college-level classes), but Mason
studies as hard as she practices. “I get in
at least an hour every night for something
that’s due the next day, and I’m pretty
good at retaining information.”

Mason remembers quite well the best
basketball moments in her life. In fourth
grade, her Little Dribblers team beat the
undefeated team for the championship.
In fifth grade, she scored 22 points in
one game. “That was awesome for me; I
thought I had to have my shoes bronzed!”
In seventh grade, in the final 15 seconds
of the game against their rival, Aledo,
Mason made a 3-point shot from two or
three feet outside the three-point line.
“It’s clutch moments like that,” Mason
said, “when you pull through, that get
your adrenaline going and make you fall in
love with the sport!”

Written by Melissa Rawlins