Mason Burden has made a lot of shots for the Robertson County boys’ basketball team over the last six years.
On Friday, he had one that he’ll certainly remember.
Ross Becker collected a rebound off of his own miss and passed the ball to Sebastian Dixon on the wing. Dixon swung the ball back to Burden at the top of the 3-point arc, where he drained a shot to pass the 2,000 point mark in his career.
“It’s kind of hard in the game, because I came into the game and this year not focused on it. This year is a lot different. This year I’m trying to win more ball games. I’m trying to make it far in region. I knew coming into the game I could score 2,000, but I wasn’t thinking on that particular shot that I was going to get it. I didn’t know until halftime. They didn’t tell us until halftime. I realized after that,” said Burden. “It’s a great honor. That’s all I can really say about it. They [Bath County] were great down there to us.”
The shot came in a 77-73 loss to Menifee County in the CSI Classic at Bath County. During the game, Burden was presented with the game ball by Robertson County coach Patrick Kelsch.
“I just let him know I was proud of him and made sure he thanked those people that helped him along the way to achieve such a milestone,” said Kelsch. “I mean, 2,000 points is a lot of points. Mason plays hard and plays with passion. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, as you can tell through every game. You know how he’s feeling on every play of every game by his emotions.
“That day, I’m so thankful for Bath County and coach Bart Williams to allow us to stop the game and allowing us to present the game ball. When you’re on the road, they don’t have to do that. Bath County, they hosted a first class event and they allowed us to do that and it was special to Mason that we were able to stop the game. His parents were there and I said, ‘Go give this ball to your mom and dad and tell them thanks,’” added Kelsch. “Mason is a first class kid and he just wants to win. He’s passionate about the game, passionate about basketball and this was a big accomplishment for him.”
The 6-foot guard/forward finished with 23 points and seven rebounds in the game. The 23 points are the third-most Burden’s scored in a game this season. He had 25 points in a 91-56 win against Bracken County on Dec. 5 and 29 in an 88-80 win at Calvary Christian on Dec. 19.
Burden has been the leader for the Black Devils throughout his time at the high school, averaging 15.6 points as a freshman, 23.7 as a sophomore and 23.6 as a junior. He’s added 6.7, 8.1 and 6.3 rebounds per game those three years as well.
This season, with added offensive weapons, Burden’s attack has slowed down, but his presence on the court is still an important part of Robertson County’s success. The senior averaged 17.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game through the 2017 portion of the season. He’s currently behind Kyle King, who scored over 2,300 points in his career, on the school’s all-time scoring list, according to Kelsch.
“Sometimes you’ve got to realize who has got the hot hand, who has got the matchup in a certain game. It’s OK. I’m OK with that. I’ve played a lot of AAU ball and I’ve not always had the hot hand on the floor or been the guy that’s going to have the ball every time,” said Burden. “It’s OK. I’ve got Alex [Schalch], I’ve got Sebastian [Dixon], I’ve got my whole starting lineup. I’ve even got an eighth grader on the bench that can score. I’m OK with giving up the ball. I just want to win ball games. If I’ve got to go out and take over a game or I’ve got to score and do this and that, I’ll do it. If I’ve got to pass, I’ll do it.”
The second-year Robertson County coach believes he’s playing better this season, despite not putting up the scoring number he did the previous two years.
“I think it’s been an adjustment. Mason’s usually on a team in the past at Robertson County where he’s had to score 25 or 30 a game and been put in those situations where he has to score 25 or 30,” said Kelsch. “I actually think he’s having a better year this year because his assists are up, his turnovers are down and we’re playing with Eli [Dotson], Alex [Schalch], Sebastian [Dixon], Justin Becker, Ross Becker – those guys that can finish – so it doesn’t put that pressure on him to score every trip down the floor.”
Burden often draws the toughest defender. On Tuesday, in an 88-61 defeat to Pendleton County, he was often facing Dontaie Allen, a 6-foot-6 junior with NCAA Division I offers. The Robertson County senior finished with a team-high 16 points in the game.
“It’s always been motivation for me,” said Burden. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Dontaie. Dontaie’s a top-notch guy. He’s one of the top guys that I’ve played against and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. It’s an honor to play against guys like that because that kid's a special talent.”
The Black Devils were able to advance to the 10th Region Tournament a season ago with a 54-46 win over Nicholas County in the 38th District semifinals. While Robertson County is aiming for a return to the region tournament, they’ll have their eyes on another tournament before then – the 10th Region All “A” Classic, which they’ll kick off on Friday against Silver Grove at 7:30 p.m.
But first, the Black Devils are scheduled to host St. Patrick on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.