SPORTS HEADLINES

Basketball: Headed back out west – Hix provides missing piece

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 3, 2018
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Road to San Antonio

ROAD TO SAN ANTONIO – Northwest senior Mason Hix waits for a pass. Hix is the Texans’ second-leading scorer going into the regional tournament this weekend. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

During Northwest’s regional quarterfinal victory over Fort Worth Southwest on Tuesday, senior Mason Hix tried to throw an alley-oop to Sammie Freeman on a fast break.

The pass sailed over Freeman’s head and out of bounds, resulting in Hix being subbed out of the game and a strong one-sided conversation from Northwest coach Mike Hatch as he took a seat.

SLAM DUNK – Northwest’s Mason Hix has thrived with the Texans this year, averaging 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I didn’t even want to walk by the bench,” Hix recalled Wednesday after practice. “I was nervous to see what he was going to say.”

Hix said he and Freeman have connected on that same alley-oop several times this season, but on that particular occasion, were not so lucky. Hatch later called the pass one of Northwest’s many “mindless” plays of the game.

Although Hatch was not a fan of the errant lob and subsequent turnover, he said it highlighted an important area of growth this year for Hix, who finished that playoff game with a team-high 21 points.

“Mentally he’s gotten tougher,” Hatch said. “And he’s had to. He’s thickened his skin up a little bit. That [missed alley-oop] he would not have handled well at all [earlier in the season] because I thought it was just a bonehead play.”

His coach may be tough on him and the rest of the team, but Hix knew what he was getting into when he transferred from Granbury last summer. Joining a Texan squad fresh off a run to the 5A state semifinals in 2017, Hix quickly had to adapt to Northwest’s style of play.

Before he ever suited up for the Texans, Hatch was upfront with both Hix and his family about Northwest’s lofty expectations.

“Like anyone who is going to move here, especially if they’re a basketball player, I tell them how we are,” Hatch said. “His dad came in to visit with me, and I was just real honest with him about how we coach. We’re very hard on them. I said honestly, it’s not for some kids.”

Hix spent his first two years of high school at Decatur, transferring to Granbury the summer after his sophomore year. Hix only spent one year with the Pirates, noting how the move put a strain on his family.

With his parents divorced and his mom living in Decatur, Hix was nearly an hour and a half away from his mother. Wanting to be closer to his family, Hix and his father moved to Justin last summer.

Despite this being Hix’s third high school in four years, he said coming to Northwest was a natural transition.

“It just felt normal,” Hix said. “It felt like I had been here my whole life. Everybody was so welcoming. I got used to it right away and it felt right.

“Growing up around this area, I knew who Northwest was. I’d heard about Avery [Anderson]. Knowing they went to state last year, I just knew I was coming to a really good team, and I just had to come in and earn my spot.”

It did not take long for Northwest to realize they were adding a big missing piece.

Listed at 6 foot, 7 inches, Hix serves as a versatile wing and post for Northwest. Not only is he able to get hot and knock down shots on the perimeter, Hix can aggressively drive and finish around the rim.

His unexpected arrival was a welcomed sight for many of the Texans, including Anderson.

“[He’s had a] real big [impact],” Anderson said. “He adds another scorer to the team and takes a lot of the load off me. It was a big relief [when I found out he was coming]. I didn’t have to do all the scoring. I could give the buckets to Mase.”

Hix signed with UT-Arlington in the fall, and has shown several times this year he is capable of making spectacular plays above the rim.

Northwest’s second-leading scorer, Hix is averaging 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds this year. He has emerged as a difference-maker on both ends of the court, helping the Texans claim their second consecutive regional championship Saturday.

As a result, Northwest qualified for the state tournament for the second straight year. They will play in the semifinal Thursday night in San Antonio.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s playing his best ball right now,” Hatch said. “He looks really comfortable out there. He’s shooting it extremely well and he understands what we expect. He’s really been good. We’re tickled that we’ve had a chance to coach him. He’s come so far.”

As his high school career draws to a close, Hix is hoping to follow in the footsteps of both his parents. His mother and father both claimed state titles in basketball. The summer going into his freshman year, Hix told them he wanted to win one, too.

He’s two wins away from achieving that goal.

“Being able to actually have a chance [to win a state title] means everything to me,” Hix said. “I think we’re gonna do it. If we do, my career will be made.”

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