Kostecki's return to hometown sees record-breaking 3-point senior season
By Sam Herder
Journal Sports Editor
Mason Kostecki remembers telling Derek Gathman a couple summers ago that he wanted to break Devils Lake’s single game 3-point record. The only problem was Kostecki would have to move to Grand Forks at the beginning of his sophomore year. But his goal turned back to a possibility when Kostecki found himself back in Devils Lake for his final year of high school.
It turned into reality this season, as the 5-foot-10 guard has given the Firebirds a boost as the deadliest 3-point shooter in the Eastern Dakota Conference. His 69 3-pointers made leads the EDC and is also a school record. And as far as the single game record, he can check that off as well.
Kostecki set a new record with nine 3-pointers in a Dec. 18 home game against West Fargo Sheyenne. And just to make sure the stat sheet got it correct, Kostecki hit another nine 3-pointers a week later against Jamestown.
“Our offense is 10 times better with him out there,” Gathman, in his fifth year as head coach, said. “He fits in really well with our style. We’re up-tempo and trying to get out and run. We’re not ones to get mad about shooting threes. And he fits in well with that.”
Kostecki was born in Devils Lake and lived here up until his early years of high school. He began playing organized basketball with the likes of current fellow seniors Josh Frelich and Justin Christianson in junior high.
But when his mother was stationed in Washington for the Military, Kostecki transferred his sophomore year to Grand Forks Central for easier living arrangements with his aunt and uncle.
After his mother returned to North Dakota, Kostecki found at he’d be able to attend Devils Lake his senior year while living with her and his grandparents.
“All my friends wanted me to come back,” Kostecki said. “I had been here previously and I did miss it. I’ve always wanted to graduate from Devils Lake. I was really happy to come back. I wish I would have been here more years than just this year, but hey, I think I’ve made the most of it.”
He’s certainly made the most of it on the court. Kostecki is the first to come off the bench for the Firebirds. His production is instant in an offense which leads the EDC with 175 3-pointers made and 3-point shooting percentage at 41 percent. Kostecki is third on the team with 227 points while shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc.
The added offensive weapon has the Firebirds sitting in second place in the EDC at 13-4. And for the team, it’s nice to have a familiar face back.
“I was pretty happy he came back since we’ve been friends for a long time,” Christianson said. “He’s a good shooter and he’s fun to play with on the court.”
Kostecki played on the Knights varsity team last year, in which Christianson said he was their best player.
Switching from that role to coming off the bench hasn’t been a problem for Kostecki.
“He just fit in well, he didn’t come in and try and be anything he wasn’t,” Gathman said. “He came in and worked hard and kept his mouth shut. Sometimes you get guys who come in and think they’re the best on the team. He fit in and played his role. As far as on-the-court chemistry, him and Justin play really well together. That was part of the decision making, because they come off the bench at the same time and they feed off each other’s energy.”
What has helped Kostecki in returning to the Firebirds was him playing summer league with the team. But he still had catching up to do when practices began in early winter.
“Right away I wasn’t familiar with plays and I was a little shaky understanding that and game situations,” Kostecki said. “But after I realized that these guys like to shoot a lot of threes and make a lot of threes, I fit in pretty well.”
What didn’t help from Kostecki playing summer ball with the Firebirds was when Devils Lake played him at Central last year. Knowing his tendencies, Gathman had Christianson lock down on Kostecki, and the Firebirds held him in check.
While they still like to give him crap about that game, the Firebirds are plenty happy the sharpshooter is back on their team.
“These guys are great,” Kostecki said. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at without them honestly. They’ve set me up and helped me be where I’m at and beat those records.”