By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Basketball: Cut twice in middle school, Bierster finds home at Johnson
Mason Bierster
Mason Bierster, an all-region and all-state selection his senior year at Horizon Christian, fielded offers from Berea College and Gettysburg College but ended up choosing Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Mason Bierster has had a chip on his shoulder his entire basketball career. 

A football player by design, Bierster took a particular interest in basketball as a sixth grader at Riverwatch Middle School. He tried out for the school's basketball team as a seventh grader but was cut. He tried out again the following year and was cut again.

So, Bierster increased his training and began playing AAU basketball to match himself against some of the state's best players.

Determined to play for his high school team the following year, Bierster tried out for Lambert as a freshman only to be one of the last players cut. 

“A lot of kids that I played with throughout rec ball or whatever, everybody pretty much quit in high school. Whenever that happened, I knew my options were pretty short. It was either football or I might just quit basketball," Bierster said. "Then, one of my cousins went to HCA and let me know about them. I toured there and I toured Pinecrest as well, and HCA ended up being the better fit for me.”

It didn't take Bierster long to find success at Horizon Christian, which won back-to-back GICAA state championships in 2015-16 and 2016-17, then reached the title game again in 2017-18.

It was a different level of competition than what he would have faced at Lambert, but Bierster was part of a championship program nonetheless. 

“You kind of have to play with a chip on your shoulder, I would say," Bierster said. "I really liked it. Some of the teams were smaller, of course, but when it came down to the Final Four, which we made every year that I was there, we competed every year for a state championship.”

Meanwhile, Bierster began to grow physically, too, sprouting up from 5-foot-10 as a freshman to 6-foot-1 his sophomore year. By the time he was a senior, he was a 6-foot-4 forward with college basketball on his mind. 

HCA_Preview_2_111217_web
Horizon Christian’s Alex Dahlberg (from left), Michael Gul, Mason Bierster and Pable Marerro embrace the challenge of trying to lead the Warriors to a third straight GICAA Division I state championship. - photo by Lily McGregor Photography

Despite being a perennial title contender at Horizon Christian, Bierster found that it was often up to him to get his name out there.

“It was pretty difficult. I’m not going to lie," Bierster said. "I had to reach out to a lot of coaches through Twitter DMs. I would say AAU really helped me get a lot of offers and a lot of looks. These big tournaments I would go to would get me on the map for coaches to kind of hear my name. Not a lot of coaches are going to come to HCA games and watch because of how small the schools are that we play.”

Bierster, an all-region and all-state selection his senior year at Horizon Christian, fielded offers from Berea College and Gettysburg College but ended up choosing Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee, because of a fit in style — a lot of fast breaks and transition play.

Bierster, now listed at 6-foot-7, appeared in eight games as a true freshman after a broken ankle kept him out until February. He had surgery for a torn labrum this past summer but rebounded in time for the start of Johnson's 2020-21 season, playing in all six games before a recent extended break in the season because of COVID-19.

Bierster flashed his versatility early in the season, knocking down his lone 3-point attempt Oct. 26 against Point, then scoring seven points and pulling down four rebounds in 14 minutes during a game against Tennessee Wesleyan. Bierster also had a block in the game. 

“It was a lot of rehab and a lot of hard work to get where I am today," Bierster said. "Last year was a little rough with a lot of injuries, but this year I’ve done a lot better.”