Observer-Reporter Athlete of the Week: California’s Courtnee McMasters

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Name: Courtnee McMasters


School: California


Class: Senior


Sport: Basketball


McMasters’ week: McMasters scored 68 points in three games, wins over Clairton and Jefferson-Morgan, as well as a loss to Frazier.


For the season, McMasters has helped California to a 4-3, 13-5 record – the Trojans’ best in years – and leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game.


It’s hardly a secret that the Bethany College recruit’s outstanding play is one of the primary reasons the Trojans’ are eyeing a playoff appearance as the No. 3 seed out of Section 3-A.


“She’s had a good season,” California coach Chris Minerd said. “Honestly, the best since I’ve been here. I’ve been the head coach for three years, and before that I was the assistant for three years. She’s definitely having the best regular season of anybody I’ve ever coached.”


Striking a balance: At times in previous seasons – Minerd has coached McMasters since seventh grade – McMasters would shoot too much, other times not enough. That has not been the case this season.


“She’s finally found the balance in her game,” Minerd said. “In years past, there were times when she became one-dimensional; sometimes she would shoot too many threes, sometimes she would not shoot enough. This year she’s finally found the balance where when she’s hot from three, she’s able to hit those threes. When she’s not hot, she’s able to change her game a little bit and drive to the basket. That’s one of her major strengths.”


McMasters was averaging 20.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 3.3 assists and two blocks per game entering Monday night’s loss to Carmichaels.


She has 889 career points, giving her an outside shot at 1,000 for her career, though she would need to average 27.8 points per game through the final three regular-season games and one playoff game, less if the Trojans’ make a postseason run.


Records aside, McMasters’ contributions have been crucial, as California will be without Tristen Conaway (concussion) for the rest of the season.


“We’ve started to work together as a team really well with moving the ball since the loss of Tristen,” McMasters said.


In good shape: McMasters rarely comes off the court, a point evidenced by her playing every minute of a double-overtime loss at Avella two weeks ago.


All of this is possible, Minerd and McMasters agreed, because of an offseason conditioning program McMasters started with her older sister – running up hills, walking down on her tip-toes, several-mile-long jogs every morning.


She also found a weight room routine that she stuck to.


“I think it’s helped me a lot as far as rebounding and endurance go,” McMasters said.


And the hills?


“The hillsides are a killer,” she joked.


Aside from hoops: While giving the ball away isn’t exactly McMasters’ thing, she’s a bit more gracious with her time. McMasters is a member of SADD and the Leo Lions club, helping with Toys for Tots, collecting food and clothes for the Salvation Army and sending packages to troops overseas.


“It takes a lot of time, but I really enjoy it,” McMasters said.


– Compiled by Jason Mackey


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