December 12, 2018 06:53 PM
(ABC 6 News) – The 2017-2018 boys basketball season was a rough one for the Hayfield Vikings, which was because they missed their top player—who’s now back for the 2018-2019 season, and he’s stronger than ever.
Hayfield senior guard Mason Tapp is a dynamic talent, and a different kind of specimen for the Vikings.
“He gives us that extra element which you rarely see in the high school game,” Hayfield head coach Chris Pack said. “With how explosive he is on both ends of the floor, to be able to shoot threes from 25 feet and be able to dunk and take it to the basket, he adds a nice element for us.”
“He’s very athletic. A 6’5 guard can shoot it from anywhere on the floor. He steps across half-court and he’s within range.”
“Last year, I really just shot a lot, but this year, I’ve started attacking the basket more,” Tapp added. “I’m a lot stronger than I used to be.”
Tapp isn’t afraid to go inside—and given his backstory, that alone is a tremendous feat.
“Last year, 4th game of the year at Cannon Falls, he went up to block a shot, landed funny on his (right) leg and he ended up breaking his fibula,” Pack recalled. “He missed about 12 games, came back not anywhere close to 100 percent, and he was a little timid.”
“It was really hard (to sit out,” Tapp said. “It was a struggle to adapt, but eventually, I got there.”
After breaking his leg, Tapp, who leads the Vikings in scoring this season (23.1 point per game), has seen his game evolve right before his eyes.
“This whole summer, I’ve been working to get back to the best basketball shape I could be in,” Tapp said. “I was really ready to come out and play strong this year.”
“He’s really added the element of going to the basket strong and finishing,” Pack said. “He’s up there, able to dunk over people and it’s really fun to watch him. Last year, he didn’t attack the basket as much, and this year, most of his points are coming in the paint.”
Prior to the injury, Tapp had never dunked in a basketball game—this year, it has become more of a surprise if spectators don’t see him finishing at the rim with authority.
“He comes across as ‘Mr. Nice Guy,’ he’s not very loud and vocal,” Pack said. “But he’s definitely added that element (of driving to the basket). He likes dunking on people, I can tell you that. My heart skips a beat every once in a while (when he goes up).”
Tapp has good bloodlines—two of his first cousins are Paige and Hannah Tapp, twin sisters from Stewartville who eventually went on to star on the volleyball courts at the University of Minnesota.
With his athletic ability and his change in demeanor and style on the hardwood, even though Pack said Tapp is one of the “nicest kids” he has ever coached, there is no more “Mr. Nice Guy” in Hayfield.
“It was just so hard not to be able to play, that it just made me work harder,” Tapp said. “I made sure I made the best out of what I was given.”
Tapp said he’s received some interest from Division II and Division III Men’s Basketball programs. Tapp and his Vikings team will return to the floor on Thursday against Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
Updated: December 12, 2018 06:53 PM
Created: December 12, 2018 04:33 PM
Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company