Tanyon Schafer battled through a broken wrist as a sophomore, but has put the injury behind him and is playing his best basketball as a Viking.
Schafer scored a career-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field in a 77-60 win over Hayden in the Vikings’ final game before the winter break.
“That was pretty awesome,” Schafer said. “We did great, everyone did good. My teammates just found me for open shots and they just went in I guess.”
Schafer is an athletic 6-foot-5 small forward ranked fourth in the 2017 class, who is also a midfielder on the soccer team and plays centerfield and pitches on the baseball team. Schafer has the ability to take defenders off the dribble from the perimeter, score in the low post, or knock down shots from the perimeter, which he showed against Hayden hitting three 3-pointers.
“I obviously work hard on trying to shoot from the outside,” said Schafer, who is averaging 12.8 points on 52-percent shooting. “I’m usually staying after practice to shoot for a while. I just have to keep focusing on being able to shoot from the outside. It helps me out a lot. Players will sometimes come out to guard me and I can drive past them or post them up on the block. It really helps when I can shoot from the outside.”
The Vikings have gotten off to a 4-1 start and is ranked sixth in Class 5A in the latest KBCA rankings. They finished 11-11 last season.
“I don’t think we’re surprised,” Schafer said of the start. “We lost Joe Miller [to graduation] and obviously that’s a loss because he’s a great scorer and that helps out, but this year I think we have a better team. There’s no star player on our team. Any guy can go off on any certain night so it’s really dangerous to play a team like that.”
Versatility as a team has been a strength of the Vikings.
“I think we’re very versatile,” Schafer said. “We’ve got big guys who can handle the ball and shoot from the outside. I think it helps a lot that everyone can shoot the ball to spread the other team out and make them not play a zone.”
The team also does a good job of sharing the ball and creating high-percentage opportunities for one another on the offensive end.
“I don’t think the team really cares who is the leading scorer that night,” Schafer said. “It’s just that we get the win. I feel like we’re a really close team and we’re OK with passing the ball off and getting a better shot.”
Seniors Ryan Zeferjahn (17.2 ppg) and Josiah Hazim (13.6) have been helping lead the Vikings.
“They do a great job of pushing us in practice and making us all better and really showing leadership out on the court with helping us get into our offense,” Schafer said. “It helps a lot.”
It’s been a positive start for Schafer, who averaged 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 15 games, making three starts as a sophomore.
“Last year was kind of a disappointing year for me personally because I really felt like I could have had a breakout season,” he said. “But this year I think we’re all going to have a great season and hopefully I’ll help my team win.”
Schafer and the Vikings continue their season on Jan. 5 at Manhattan as they look to continue their quest of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2008.
“I definitely feel like we need to be able to shoot from the outside because we obviously didn’t play very well against Salina Central (a 59-44 loss). We just need to be able to shoot from the outside and get out on fast breaks so teams can’t get into their defense.”