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Great to greater: Standout seniors hope to top last year

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Makenzie Mason can handle spotlights.

As a Central Bucks West junior, Mason scored four points in the PIAA state title game. Four seasons later, Mason earned Division III NCAA All-Tournament Team honors while leading her Scranton Royals to last year’s Final Four.

“The attitude was very similar between my junior year of high school and my junior year last year,” Mason described. “In high school, we had an amazing senior class above me. Last year, it was a little different because we didn’t have a huge senior class. It was a time for me to step up.”

Mason is one of three area seniors hoping to build off of a superlative junior year – both for themselves and their teams. A forward, Mason led the 29-3 Royals in points, rebounds, assists and blocks en route to winning the Landmark Conference Player of the Year. D3Hoops.com selected her to the All-Mid-Atlantic Region first team.

The all-region second team reveals familiar names to Pennridge fans: Widener’s Devan Rimmer and Ursinus’ Lydia Konstanzer. Both former Rams were named first team all-conference. Both led their programs to new heights: Rimmer’s sharpshooting guided Widener to its second ever 20-win season. Konstanzer’s offensive and defensive arsenal carried Ursinus to its highest win total in a dozen years.

Konstanzer and Rimmer both won their conference Rookie of the Year and both placed on their conference’s all-academic teams this winter. Konstanzer ranked third in the Centennial Conference in both scoring and rebounding; she also led the CC in steals.

“In practice, the way we play defense at Ursinus is a bit different from other teams. Our coaches promote going for steals, taking risks, etc. My hands are up, my hands are large and I’m 6 feet tall so I’m very lengthy,” Konstanzer chuckled. “That works in my favor.”

Rimmer’s shooting took a massive leap forward. She shot 40% from the 3-point arc, a dramatic improvement from 30% during her first two years. Rimmer’s 550 points ranked 12th in the country and are the second best in Widener single-season history. She won the MAC Commonwealth Player of the Week four times.

“My sophomore year was definitely one of my weaker years and I did not want to relive that my junior year. I came into the season really harping on the little things like pushing myself in practice every day,” Rimmer credited. “A lot of being a good shooter comes from confidence; being able to hit those shots in a game is a really good feeling.”

All three have evolved their games during their college years. “I’ve become a lot more versatile,” Rimmer feels. “I was usually known for just driving to the basket but throughout my years at Widener, I’ve definitely grown more as a shooter. Last year, I shot pretty well from the 3-point line, and I got to the foul line and finished there.”

“My main focus was defense my first few years here,” Mason reflected. “It’s nice being a 4-guard who is usually a little taller than the position so I can play girls who are smaller. Having those guard skills and post skills helps. Where my game has evolved too is the high/low, something that Scranton really stresses. Coming out of high school, I was not a 3-point threat at all. Working on those the last few seasons improved it. Not a lot of 4s can go out to the key so that’s another really good threat.”

Konstanzer lifted weights, got stronger and morphed her game into becoming a true post player and center. She, like Rimmer and Mason, knows that she’ll be the focus of rival teams’ game plans this season.

“Now, it’s not only do you have a move, but you have a countermove for your countermove. Teams know your first and second move. They know your range,” Konstanzer described. “The scouting reports are insane. My coach and I have worked on extending my range so if people are going to let me shoot now, I’m going to shoot it. And if you come out on me, I’m going to try and blow right by you.”

For all of their successes, all three women have unfinished business from last March. Scranton would have loved two more wins to claim its second national title. Widener, which made the ECAC tournament, missed an NCAA bid by one basket. The Pride fell 65-64 in the conference title game. Ursinus earned its first playoff win of the 2010s but lost in conference semifinals.

“In end of game situations, Coach White has more things to pull out. What we do in practice is very different from what we did freshman year,” Konstanzer said. “A lot of it is the mindset. In my freshman year when I came in, we never had a championship mindset. Now our goal is to win the Centennial Conference championship and be a contender on championship weekend.”

Widener, Scranton and Ursinus all return most of their starters. “We came off of a really successful season last year but this year, we’re coming in like it’s a clean slate. I expect us to be a talented team but we have to have that mindset and a winning mentality,” Rimmer pointed out. “Going into the postseason last year gave us that confidence. We have that potential to do really good things and hopefully this year, we can execute on that.

“We’re all on the same page. We definitely want to win the MAC and go to the postseason,” Rimmer continued. “Personally, I want to have as successful of a season as I did last year and improve on things like rebounding.”

“Team wise, we have decided that we want to go all the way and win the national championship. With how we did last season and we have most of our starters back, we think we have a very good shot of getting back to where we were last season,” Mason said.

“It’s my senior season,” Mason continued. “We have high expectations. I’m on a mission to do my best to help this team go forward and reach that goal. As the years go on and you realize, ‘Oh shoot. This is my final season.’ I want to make it last as long as I can.”


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