In the middle of the summer, Hauser assistant basketball coach Griff Roth recalled the many times he drove past the park in Hartsville.
Roth would look out his window, and just like the rims and the backboards, he would see another constant on the court every day.
That constant was Mason Ramsey.
“When I would drive past, he was always there shooting,” Roth said. “He shoots all summer long.”
Add the other seasons to that statement as well. If he wasn’t practicing with the Hauser basketball team, Ramsey would be looking for a game somewhere else. Perhaps one of the parks or gyms in Columbus.
A 5-foot-9 junior guard, Ramsey knew growing up that he was going to be challenged to find a place in his favorite sport of basketball.
“I’ve always been a short kid,” said Ramsey, who now is playing a key role in Hauser’s bounce-back season. “But I always wanted to be a Hauser basketball player. People would tell me, ‘That’s good because you would never make it anywhere else.’”
But even at Class A Hauser, Ramsey worried whether he was big enough, fast enough to play varsity basketball. His freshman season, he was the freshman team MVP, but he seldom played for the junior varsity.
His mother, Carie Mires, explained his role on the junior varsity team.
“He was a bench-warmer,” she said. “But after his freshman year, he said, ‘Mom, I am going to work my butt off.’ He was a varsity starter as a sophomore.
“Basketball always was going to be his thing, and with him, when he sets his mind to something, that is what he is going to do. He is pretty determined.”
Hauser’s opponents are now determined to stop him.
“He is a shooter, and you can’t let him shoot the 3,” Roth said. “And for his size, it’s amazing the amount of rebounds he gets. There’s a good basketball sense to his game.”
His senior teammate, 6-foot-4 Ryan Christy, appreciates Ramsey’s determination and toughness.
“He is a super hardworking kid,” Christy said. “And he will go in there against us (the bigger guys) and challenge us. He really has improved his game.”
Hauser’s overall game has improved.
A year ago, the Jets were 1-20, and they lasted just one game in the sectional, losing to Jac-Cen-Del. This season, Hauser finished the regular season 9-10 and appears to be a threat to win its sectional, which begins Tuesday with a game against Oldenburg Academy at the South Decatur Sectional.
“It’s nerve-wracking right now,” Ramsey said. “But we have gained confidence, and we trust each other.”
The pressure could be on Ramsey to hit a shot with the season on the line.
“I have had one shot this season to win a game, and I missed it,” he said. “It was against Southwestern (a 52-51 loss). I was wide open at the top of the key, and it went off the rim. I was having a tough game, but I will make the next one.”
Roth won’t be surprised if he does.
“He’s not the biggest or the fastest,” Roth said. “But he has more heart and desire than most kids. The big thing is his love for the game. He is an example that if you put your mind to it, you can do it.
“Sure, he definitely needs to improve in a lot of spots. But he is very important to our squad. Our whole team needs to learn and grow.”
Ramsey admits that he needs to be a better all-around player.
“I think what I do best is score,” he said. “I don’t feel that my defense is very good. I have to work on my speed.
“I will just keep working hard and stay dedicated.”
Hauser head coach Bob Nobbe loves that kind of talk.
“If you have that competitive desire, there is a place for it on the basketball court,” Nobbe said. “Mason is a hardworking kid who took advantage of a chance to start last season. He is a very strong competitor.”
Now it’s time to enjoy some of the rewards for that hard work.
Ramsey is enjoying Hauser’s renewed success this season, after last year’s grind.
“Now that success is coming, it feels great,” he said. “If we can win sectional, I think we can go even farther. It would be a huge confidence boost for us.”
Along the way, Ramsey knows that some opponent might try to intimidate him.
“There always is that one guy on the court who says, ‘You’re short.’ But you have to go in there fearless,” he said.
His mom will watch it all from the stands.
“That’s my boy,” Mires said. “I find myself saying that a lot.”