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(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jessica Matheson has led the turnaround this year for Granger. Matheson poses for a photo after practice, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.
Prep girls’ basketball: Jessica Matheson leads Granger turnaround

Junior guard has helped Granger go from sub-.500 to first place in Region 2.

First Published Feb 01 2014 05:52 pm • Last Updated Feb 02 2014 12:16 am

West Valley City • Granger guard Jessica Matheson is not the tallest player on her own team, nor is she the most intimidating. She blends in during practice without the ball, appearing largely indistinguishable from any other player.

But with the ball in her hands? That’s a different story.

At a glance

Jessica Matheson file

Height » 5-foot-5

Class » Junior

Key stats » 19 ppg, 5 apg, 4 spg

Noteworthy » Has led Granger to a 13-4 overall record after several sub-.500 seasons. … The Lancers are tied for first place in Region 2. … Started playing hoops at age 6, and developed a “streetball” style by going up against rec center competition.

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"She’s got a little street to her game," Granger coach Aaron Cousins said. "She’s got a little shake-and-bake. She’s got a great crossover, all the moves. She understands angles.

"She’s only about 5-foot-5. But this is a girl that eats, drinks, sleeps basketball. It’s in her blood. She loves the game so much."

Matheson’s streetball mentality comes from a young age, when her mother pushed her to play basketball, despite no one in her family having a background in the game.

Even as a young girl, she’d spend her free time at the local rec center, developing the moves that have turned her into one of the best producers in the state. The junior averages more than 19 points, five assists and four steals a game.

"I just went out every day and played ball," said Matheson, who began playing when she was 6 years old. "A lot of people in my family don’t play ball. Just me, pretty much."

But more than turn her into one of the best players in the state, Matheson’s game also has elevated a Granger program. The Lancers are 13-4 and tied atop Region 2, rarefied air for a program that hasn’t finished above .500 in several years.

"We’re not known as a basketball school," Cousins said. "But we’re changing that culture and a lot of it is because we can rely on our team to function well. Jessica is a big part of that. …

"We have a lot of girls that have been in the program for the long time. But it really helps when you can go to a girl at any point in the game because we need a basket and she can get it for you."

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Matheson demurs when asked about her role in changing the Lancers’ fortunes. She instead deflects credit to her teammates, who she says have bought into the program’s turnaround.

"Last year it didn’t seem like the team thought we could do it," she said. "We thought we sucked. But this year, we’ve been working really hard, and I think we’ll go far in the playoffs. … We all have the same attitude. That’s why we’re winning so much this year because we don’t allow one person to take over. It’s the whole team."

But while Cousins is quick to credit the whole team for Granger’s surge, he does not downplay the role Matheson has played. The guard complements her scoring with the ability to see the floor and generate looks for her teammates, which has been crucial for the Lancers.

"She’d love to get 10 assists before she got 20 points," Cousins said. "The girls love playing with her because they know she’ll shoot the ball and she’ll score, but if they’re open, they’re getting the ball. I think you’ve seen the change in our team because of that. Everybody is a better player. Everybody is a bigger threat because of that."


Twitter: @BubbaSLTrib

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