For Flyers duo, prep on and off the court pays off
BY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Feb. 17, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.
A high SAT score is not required to excel at basketball, but it does not hurt.
Just ask St. Joseph head basketball coach Abraham Garcia.
Three students at St. Joseph recently recorded perfect scores on a section of the SAT and two of them - Chris Mason and Christian Wenske - are members of the Flyers' playoff-bound basketball team.
"It is really impressive," Garcia said. "They are just regular guys though. You always think of kids who are a lot smarter are always just studying, but these kids are at practice every day. They just work really hard at whatever they do.
"At St. Joseph, we really strive to put a big academic load on the kids. We are basically a college prep school, and the teachers ask a lot of the kids, and we do too out here in athletics."
The balancing act between academics and athletics can be difficult at times, but it is hard to tell when looking at SAT scores.
Mason, a guard, earned a 1,560 on the test, including a perfect score of 800 on the critical reading section, while Wenske, a guard/forward, was flawless in the math portion and produced a 1,380 overall score.
While each student did plenty of work to prepare themselves for the test, only one expected to see an 800 when the results were delivered.
"I was proud of myself, but I knew I'd get a pretty good score, so it wasn't a big surprise," Wenske said. "It was a good accomplishment."
Mason, on the other hand, was shocked when he was awaken one morning to hear he aced the critical reading segment.
"That was the section I thought I'd do worst on," Mason said. "I was in another state and my mom told me the score. I had just woken up, so I was happy, but I was still kind of in a daze."
The reality quickly set in, however, and now, with an impressive score in his resume, the future is wide open for Mason, who wants to pursue a career in biomedical engineering after graduation.
"I've applied to Notre Dame and been accepted, and I'm waiting to hear from Duke and Yale," Mason said. "In Texas, I've been accepted to Baylor, the University of Texas and Texas A&M."
Wenske, who intends to study engineering or accounting after high school, plans to stay in state and is looking at attending either the University of Texas, Texas A&M or Texas State.
But first, both students have unfinished business to attend to on the court as they prepare to open the TAPPS 5A playoffs against San Antonio St. Anthony - a team that has defeated the Flyers twice this season.
Luckily, according to Garcia, the boys' basketball I.Q.s are equally impressive.
"Chris and Christian always ask me why we do certain things," Garcia said. "They want to understand. It's not just, 'Coach, told me to do that, so I'm going to do that.' They want to understand why we want to do something.
"I never have to tell them, 'Hey, remember what to do here.' They always know."
In order to continue their high school basketball careers, though, the Flyers as a whole must figure out St. Anthony.
The Yellowjackets (22-10 overall) are led by a trio of double-digit scorers, including senior point guard Jacob Fernandez, who is averaging 12.6 points and 6.1 assists per game.
"We are going to have to play defense and rebound," Garcia said. "We have a good inside presence with Dean (Vanek) and Cody (Janak), and our guards are going to have to handle the ball pressure."
The area round playoff game will be part of a doubleheader at St. Joseph Saturday. The Flyers host the Yellowjackets at 4 p.m., while the Lady Flyers face Austin St. Michaels at 2 p.m.
"We are looking at this as a revenge game," Mason said.
Should the Flyers be victorious, they would encounter the winner between Fort Worth Nolan and Houston St. Thomas in the regional round.
To achieve long-term success in the playoffs, the Flyers will have to rely on the same determined attitude that helped Wenske and Mason produce such high scores in the classroom.
"We have to continue to practice hard and work even harder (as a team) to achieve our goal," Wenske said.
GAME NOTES• Game is at 4 p.m., Saturday, at St. Joseph gym (Girls play Austin St. Michael's at 2 p.m. at St. Joseph)
The Flyers and Yellowjackets met in a non-district matchup on Dec. 28, with St. Anthony picking up a 53-44 win at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. St. Anthony's Brian Denson led all scorers with 20 points, while Jackson Becker sank three 3-pointers and contributed 13 points. Dean Vanek led the Flyers with 13 points, and Patrick Sohrt added 10. St. Joseph pulled down just 23 rebounds, 9 less than its season average heading into Saturday's matchup.
ABOUT THE FLYERS• RECORD: 24-11, 2-2 district
The Flyers open the playoffs at home against an opponent they've seen before. Their scoring attack is more balanced, with Luke Wenske (11.3 ppg) the only player with more than a 10-point-per-game average, but four others - Patrick Sohrt, Dean Vanek, Jerry Vasquez and Cody Janak - making significant contributions to the team's success on the offensive side.• Offensive key for Flyers: Vasquez has the potential to get hot from behind the arc. Considering the Flyers had no 3-pointers in their loss to St. Anthony in December, a hot hand can be a game changer for St. Joseph on Saturday.
ABOUT THE YELLOWJACKETS• RECORD: 22-10, 4-3 District
St. Anthony's scoring comes from three places - Denson (13 ppg), Becker (11.5 ppg) and Jacob Fernandez (12.6 ppg, 6.1 apg). Fernandez is also a threat from behind the 3-point arc, as is Becker. Controlling these three would shut down the Yellowjackets offensive attack.
Defensive key for Flyers: Stop Fernandez. Denson put up a lot of points, and Becker has the potential to burn them too, but Fernandez had 8 points last time and 7 assists. The offense runs through him.