Surprise, surprise: Mason prevails
It may have been bigger news had Micah Mason not won the 3-point contest at the Cager Classic skills competition.
But Mason, the WPIAL's all-time leader in 3-pointers, didn't disappoint Friday night, cruising to the title while adding a victory in the individual hot shot contest during the prelude event to tonight's all-star games at Highlands.
Mason, Highlands' all-time leading scorer who will play at Drake next year, made 27 of 40 3s and hit five two-point "money balls" in the contest. How nervous was the smooth-shooting point guard to produce on his home court?
"Very," he said. "A lot of people were trying to get in my head and joking with me about winning. I wanted to win, but it wasn't the end of the world if I didn't."
Mason, representing the West team, scored 52 points in the first round of the hot shot, a contest where players shoot from eight circles with differing point values, and blazed to 55 in the final to edge Valley's Tom Weremeychik of the East.
Mason also reached the final of the co-ed hot shot with Mars teammate Randi Francis, but they lost to Burrell's Kyle Legters and Kiski Area's Makenzie Zidek, also a double winner.
"I wish I would have shot more 8-pointers," Mason said. "You don't really have a strategy going in."
Alternating shots and rebounding for each other, Legters and Zidek had 49 points in the final to clip Mason and Francis by three. Zidek won the girls individual hot shot, topping St. Joseph's Shayna Panchik in the final. Zidek made three straight 8-pointers to secure the win.
Legters and Zidek also posted second-place finishes in the 3-point contests. Deer Lakes' Emily Casello found a rhythm in the girls 3-point contest, scoring 13 points in the final after 10 in the first.
"A lot of the better shooters were here," said Casello, who is playing for the West. "I didn't expect to go out and win. "You have to just get set and try and shoot like you can."
Riverview's Corey Bickert, rehabbing a knee injury, participated in the 3-point and individual hot-shot contests. His scores didn't count, but he made several shots, essentially pushing off one leg. He remains on crutches after ACL surgery.
"I wanted to shoot," he said. "You weren't going to keep me down. If I was healthy, I'd have given (Mason) a run for his money."