Mason’s boys basketball team has had to grow up in a hurry.
After graduating nine seniors from last year’s 19-win team, including all five starters, the Bulldogs have hit the ground running this season, splitting four road games to start the season 2-2 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Mason defeated Parma Western in the season opener but lost at Jackson Lumen Christi before last week, when Mason fell 73-50 in a CAAC Gold contest at Waverly on Dec. 14 but rebounded for a 37-32 nonleague win at Haslett on Dec. 18.
Mason coach Lee Chaney said that the early schedule has put his young team to the test.
“I have ten new kids, and guys who are playing roles they’re not used to,” Chaney said. “When you start the season with four straight road games, and play Waverly and (Jackson) Lumen (Christi) back-to-back, you’re asking this team to do a lot. I wanted to see improvement tonight (against Waverly), and I think I did.”
At Waverly, Doug Bradfield’s 17 points led the Bulldogs, who hung with the Warriors for a quarter, trailing just 13-10 after the first eight minutes.
After that not so much, as Waverly started the second quarter with a 9-2 run and never looked back. The Warriors blew the game open in the second, outscoring Mason 22-13, with Bradfield scoring 11 of the Bulldog points, to take a 35-23 halftime lead.
Dee Roberts scored 25 points and Marcus Moore had 14 to lead Waverly.
Roberts had 11 of his 25 points in the first half, which he ended in the trainer’s room after clashing heads with Mason’s Quintin Way in the final seconds of the second quarter. The scary-looking collision left the two players and the floor bloody, but both returned in the second half.
The Warrior defense held Mason to just three field goals in the third quarter, and closed it out with a 10-0 run that gave them a comfortable 56-31 advantage going into the fourth.
Waverly coach Craig Fields said that the key to the game was his team’s rebounding. The Bulldogs lost the battle of the boards 42-22.
“We got killed on the glass at Lumen, and so it’s been a point of emphasis,” Fields said.
Bradfield then scored 14 points and had nine rebounds to lead Mason to victory at Haslett. Nick Carl and Nick Sjolund added seven points apiece for the Bulldogs.
Patrick Harney scored 12 points and had nine rebounds, while John Hudgins added 11 points for the Vikings (1-4).
Chaney said that the tough start to the season has not affected his team’s attitude,
“This team, chemistry-wise, has been just excellent since we started,” he said. “If we continue that way and continue to improve, we’re going to get better. There is upside to this team, there are just a lot of new faces and it’s going to take some time.”