Shenendehowa senior Mason Courtney has embraced the pressure of playing for a top Section II Class AA boys’ basketball squad, becoming its leader and proving that he can be the team’s top scorer.
Courtney is averaging 26 points per game through the Plainsmen’s 6-2 start. The 6-foot-4 guard opened the season with 26 points against Niskayuna, and hasn’t scored fewer than 15 points in a game this season. Courtney has scored more than 30 points twice in a game this season, including when he registered 31 of Shenendehowa’s 45 points in a recent win against Albany Academy.
While Courtney is a strong shooter, his offensive game includes more than “just catching and shooting” for the Plainsmen.
“He’s an efficient scorer,” said Paul Yattaw, Shenendehowa’s first-year varsity coach. “He’s getting free throws at the end of the game and he’s able to knife through the defense.”
Courtney — who Yattaw credited as a “natural leader” — said that he likes to have the ball in his hands to create opportunities as much as to score.
“I can do a little bit of everything,” said Courtney, whose season-high points total is 32. “I can step behind the line and shoot it if you leave me open — or, if you close out too hard, I’ll drive by and shoot a mid-range or take it all the way. If my teammates are shooting from the 3-point line, which they can do, and they happen to miss one, I’m in there unexpectedly just jumping up, getting a rebound and trying to put it back.”
Against Schenectady on Tuesday, Courtney dropped 21 points on the Patriots with Carter Seeberger adding 17 in the Plainsmen’s 70-45 Suburban Council win. Shenendehowa plays its next game on Friday at Averill Park.
Courtney, who quarterbacked Shenendehowa’s football team to a Section II Class AA Super Bowl appearance in the fall, credited his teammates for helping him to find open shots, both with their playmaking abilities as well as their own shooting prowess, which forces opposing defenses not to focus so heavily on Courtney.
“I think most of my successes are because of them,” Courtney said. “They’re attracting attention and helping me get open shots.”
While Courtney’s highlight reel is filled with drives into the lane and long-distance 3s, Courtney said his favorite shot is the free throw.
“It’s the only shot in basketball that never changes,” Courtney said. “Every single gym in the entire USA has a free throw line that’s 15-feet away. It is the only shot that will remain the same your whole life. You’ve got to make as many of those as you can.”
Courtney has received a scholarship offer from The College of Saint Rose, but has also started to generate interest from Division I programs.
“He’s clever and he is tougher than people think,” Yattaw said. “He has so many different facets to his game that allow him to excel like that. It’s the toughness, it’s the ice in the veins, his intelligence and being able to score anywhere on the court.”