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Senior spotlight: Zach Rigdon and Bryce Mason

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Mason and Rigdon provide scoring, leadership for Bombers

By Andrew Harner

BROWNSTOWN –– Senior Zach Rigdon did not think long before pronouncing himself a better basketball player than teammate Bryce Mason.

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“Most definitely me,” he said.

Mason, also a senior, insists on the opposite.

“I can take him,” he said. “No doubt.”

A neutral party, coach Vince Rohr, left the debate open.

“They are both pretty solid players, but they play a little bit different,” the first-year coach said. “It’d be a pretty close matchup between the two.”

As long as both players continue scoring for the Bombers, no one will probably care if the question is left unresolved forever.

As two of the area’s top five scorers, Rigdon and Mason have combined to score 28.8 points per game this season, providing some excitement for the Bombers in a disappointing season during which they only have a 2-6 record.

The team is on the rebound after losing nine seniors to graduation – including Jared Winters, who had more than 1,000 career points, and three-year letterwinner Michael Kramer – and handing Rohr the head coaching reins for the first time.

Rigdon and Mason have been the biggest gears in the Brownstown machine this season, serving as leaders through the team’s third coaching change in as many seasons. That leadership is a welcome complement to their offensive firepower.

“We’ve changed a lot of things every year,” Rigdon said. “(The younger players) don’t have to worry about (scoring) as much.”

Having the two senior leaders in practice and in games has allowed Rohr to become more comfortable in his own role, as he tries to salvage the 2010-11 season and build to the future.

Rohr was an assistant coach on last season’s squad, so there is some familiarity among players, but he can already sense that several players are watching and learning from how Rigdon and Mason play.

Because the leadership intangible is difficult to coach, Rohr is pleased to see the duo’s work ethic rubbing off on young players, such as freshman Jake Behrends and sophomore Matt Sefton.

“It helps,” Rohr said. “Zach and Bryce both understand, and they are good about knowing they have the scoring load on their shoulders.

“Some of these younger guys are picking up on that.”

Hopefully, those players are also watching the slash and dash style of Rigdon’s and the spot-up shooting of Mason’s while they wait for their opportunity on the bench.

More importantly, the youngsters should be watching how Rigdon and Mason work off of each other’s strengths during the game.

Because the two play with such different styles, knowing how to bring out the strengths in each other might be the best quality of both players.

“He’s an amazing 3-point shooter,” Rigdon said, “and he always gives me someone to kick to on the drive.”

Mason added, “He opens up a lot of stuff whenever he drives, and it helps my game out a lot.”

Teammates since junior high, the duo has also developed a rapport on and off the court that has allowed them to help each other in tough games.

“We like to go to B-Dubs,” Mason said. “Sometimes, the movies. (Being friends helps because) if one of us gets upset (on the court), we can usually calm each other down.”

Both boys have big aspirations after high school, but neither will likely play basketball at the next level.

Instead, Rigdon will join the Air Force, and Mason will pursue an engineering degree, while possibly playing baseball.

But for now, the two will continue piling up points and doing whatever they can to turn the season around and make it one to remember.