Laurel’s Mraz lets game do the talking
By Andrew Koob
New Castle News
Laurel High sophomore point guard Mason Mraz probably won’t be intimidating opponents with his words.
He’s more than happy to let his play do the talking for him.
A career-high 27 points, along with 13 assists and 10 boards, showed as much in the Spartans’ 92-65 win Friday night over Summit Academy. Mraz also added 10 points in Laurel’s 67-53 loss to Our Lady of Sacred Heart earlier last week.
His performance last week earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
“That’s what we’re expecting of him,” Laurel coach Ken Locke said. “He’s one of our four captains, but he’s kind of the silent one that does it with the play on the floor. That’s what we’re expecting from him. When you’re the point guard, the floor general, you’re leading by the things you do and running the team.
“He’s played a lot of basketball for us now, so we kind of expect that and demand it from him if he’s not doing anything. You have to let him know about it. It was a good performance, we’re excited about it, but we think there’s better to come.”
Mraz has worked hard in the gym leading up to this season and has seen improvements in his game already. It’s an encouraging sign following a successful freshman year, where Mraz scored double-digit points in 14 of Laurel’s 24 games, including a former career-high 23 points in a one-point win over Riverside.
“It’s something that we’ve been waiting for, that breakout performance,” Locke said. “He played well in the first three games, but we know what he’s capable of. So it’s really not a surprise for us and we’re hoping that he builds on that.
“Based on what he did last year for us, we knew he was one of our top guys coming back. We actually expected it in one of the first three games, it took three games, but he played well in those games and against Beaver Falls. This one, the stats just showed a little bit more than the first couple of games.”
Mraz added, “I just have to keep giving 110 percent, on and off the floor, and working hard in the offseason.”
The Spartans have a number of viable scoring options, but a lot of youth as well with Noah Wertz being the lone representative of the senior class. Mraz has stepped up in the Spartans’ first four games, but Wertz, Scott Siddall, Jacob Wilson and Jordan Dantico all have the ability to find the bottom of the net.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to preach to these guys for a little bit in terms of the team chemistry, the team atmosphere,” Locke said. “We have a lot of guys that can score, we have a lot of guys that can do different things. That’s great, but until you start doing it as a team, that’s what it’ll take to be successful. These guys came together on Friday and put together a big effort and hopefully we can keep that moving forward.”
Mraz credited his teammates for his impact on the stat sheet against Summit, saying they were in the right spots at the right time.
Having those second and third options that can carry the scoring load makes Locke’s job a little easier as well.
“I think it’s the guys around him, too,” Locke said. “If they try to box Mason, we have other guys that can really score. That helps him and opens things up for him as well. It’s tough to do that against us with the other guys that we have, so we just keep on doing what we’re doing. One night, it might not be his night. It might be someone else’s.
“But I’m sure there’s going to be plenty more where that came from.”
The Mazon Mraz File ...
Parents: John and Jamie Mraz
Known for: Recording a triple-double with a career-high 27 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in a 92-65 win over Summit Academy.
Favorite pro team: Chicago Bulls. “ Because Michael Jordan played for them.”
Favorite pro player: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls/Washington Wizards. “He’s unstoppable. He’s the greatest player to play in the NBA.”
Future Plans: “I’m hoping to continue playing basketball in college.”