PREP BASKETBALL: ‘I am so blessed that God gave me the chance to play with these girls’: Hanceville’s Mattie Keith talks eighth grade season

Hanceville’s Mattie Keith. (Courtesy of Mattie Keith)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Hanceville eighth grader Mattie Keith split time between middle school and varsity last season and she shared some of what she learned from the experience, plus what it was like playing with a great group of teammates.

“Middle school helped me learn and improve on my fundamentals, which definitely helped the season tremendously. Moving up to varsity definitely was a great opportunity for me, but it was also a mental obstacle I had to learn to get over, mainly because I had to come to terms with playing with and against girls older than me. Playing for coach Christina Watson was something I am very grateful for because it helped me see other ways the game of basketball works. It was definitely a challenge playing with girls who have a higher skill level and more experience than I did, but I wouldn’t have traded this opportunity for the world.” Keith said.

She added,

“Middle school and varsity both taught me so much. I have been playing basketball since the second grade, but the game has definitely changed. Playing with these girls have definitely taught me a lot. They have taught me a lot about character, how to work, and grow around certain challenges. It has also shown me how to handle certain situations, even when I am under pressure. Situations like breaking a press, or running a play correctly surprisingly shows how well a team works together. My team from both varsity and middle school have both taught me to work with people as a team. I am so blessed that God gave me the chance to play with these girls.”

Mattie talked about both seasons, plus what she has learned from her coaches so far.

“Our team has definitely had some challenges in the past, but the best thing about us is that we have been able to work past the small things. Our middle school season was pretty good, considering we placed second in the county and had an undefeated record, until the championship game. Despite the varsity season being unfortunately cut short, the team definitely showed progress. I am very proud of both teams and grateful for the opportunity to play on both,” Keith said. “My middle school coach, Paul Glenon, was very strict, but he cared about each one of his players. He taught me so much about fundamentals and how the game works. I had the opportunity to play for him when I was in the third grade, so when I played for him in middle school, I knew how he ran practices and what he expected from each of his players.”

She added,

“Coach Watson cares a lot about character and building Hanceville’s program back up. I definitely learned a lot about how to show a better attitude on the court. She has also shown me what basketball is really like and how it isn’t just a game. It’s also about sportsmanship and caring for each of your teammates.”

Mattie learned a very important thing from last year’s seniors, and she definitely saw her game improve throughout her time in middle school and her time on varsity so far. She will definitely continue to put in the work in the offseason and talked about her goals and the team goals.

“They were very encouraging, and they have taught me to be more motivating towards our younger groups,” she said. “I personally saw lots of growth, not only with wins and skills, but with personality and teamwork. I will continue to push myself to limits I didn’t think I would reach, and continuing to work on higher-level skills. My individual goals are to improve on my shooting and driving skills. Our team goals are to improve our stamina and attitudes.”

Mattie thinks this team will do some special things this upcoming season and talked about her role model as well, plus the best advice that someone ever gave her.

“What will make us special to watch is our drive and effort. We work hard to keep our score up and keep the game alive,” she said. “My role model is coach Watson. She has always reminded us that pushing ourselves to hard limits makes us continuously better.”

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