MASON CITY — A Saturday afternoon in February provided the perfect showcase for Kyle Lang.
The Mason City senior exploded for a career-high 41 points and was 15 of 17 in a Feb. 4 win over Ankeny and put forth the highest-scoring effort in program history since Jeff Horner was running up and down the floor of the Mason City High School gym. Lang got whatever he wanted and did it as he pleased on that day, but he was so much more to the Mason City basketball program than just one game.
Lang was the leader Mason City needed all season, whether it was through scoring or his basketball knowledge. It was that all-around game that helped Lang earn the Globe Gazette’s Player of the Year.
“Kyle really turned into a great leader for us toward the start of the year,” Mason City coach Nick Trask said. “His goal was just having the best year possible for him and his teammates. He said ‘This is the way we’re going to do it. This is the system coach has given us and we’re going to go out and be the best at it.’”
Lang, a Dordt signee, was the cog that made this Mason City team, which finished 12-11, work. His knowledge of the offense Mason City ran was unmatched, and knowing what to run in which situation against whatever the opposing team was throwing at Mason City set him apart from many he went up against.
It was also an all-around game that made him a tough matchup. He was as good at attacking the rim as he was pulling up from beyond the arc.
Lang averaged 19.6 points per game and drained 56 3-pointers. He finished 38.9 percent from 3-point territory and shot 50.9 percent from the field. Those numbers helped him earn second-team Iowa Newspaper Association all-state honors in Class 4A.
“He’s a super-competitive, high-energy player and we had a system that really worked well for him,” Trask said. “It was tough to be able to take just him away because we had a good basketball team around him and that stopped teams from face-guarding him to take him out and that let him play his game.”
Mason City, which has seen plenty of players move on to play college basketball in the past 15 years, still hadn’t had an all-state player in quite some time as the last player to be named an all-stater was Sam Skogen in 2012. Tony Brantner was an all-stater in 2004 and before that was Horner, who was also tabbed Mr. Basketball, in 2002.
So what set Lang apart from a good crop of 4A talent this year?
“I think part of it was just the overall success of the team,” Trask said. “It’s hard to make it as a player on an all-state player if the team isn’t successful, too. But he was also able to be his best every single night.”
Trask said Lang’s season should resonate around the program for some time because he helped prove that Mason City can still hang with Top 10 teams in Class 4A and even beat them.
But it was Lang’s drive to be the best player he could be and to be the best teammate which will be the sticking point.
“I think it was the idea of completely dedicating yourself to the cause and to the teammates for Kyle,” his coach said. “He wasn’t worried about stats. He was just worried about who is hot, who needs to be defended, the pace of play and worried about the end result. He just wanted to win.”