Prep basketball: Warriors' Mattie Evensen comes out of shadows

Girls basketball • Junior post player has become a rock for struggling Taylorsville
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Mattie Evensen is starting to figure it out.

The Taylorsville junior opened the season slow, as she averaged less than 7 points per game through the Warriors' first 15 contests. Big nights were followed by games in which she struggled to score at all.

But on Jan. 18 against Hunter, something clicked for Evensen, who scored 14 points. In Taylorsville's last five contests, the 6-foot-2 post player has averaged 16 points per game. She had posted 10 double-doubles as of last week's games.

Evensen's production has been timely for head coach Vicki Bohney, as team captains Abi Black and Karlee Jensen suffered season-ending injuries earlier in the season. Because she didn't start playing basketball until sixth grade, Evensen felt intimidated by the notion of stepping into a larger role, but she's excelled nonetheless.

"With the injuries, I realized that I can't just stand in the shadow anymore," she said. "I think I was nervous to come out and fill that role. … I think it was just depending on my other teammates before and expecting that they can do it, but I've realized that I need to take a bigger role now."

Evensen's evolution into a legitimate scoring threat has been a process, one Bohney said is ongoing. Mechanics on her shot are still being improved, as is her touch around the basket. Since Evensen has started to become more consistent, teams are paying more attention to her via double- and triple-teams — she is learning how to pass in those situations instead of trying to force a shot. Additionally, Evensen is learning how to keep a low base when posting up and is having to remember to keep the ball high so opposing guards can't easily steal it from her.

"Lately she's been willing to work harder on the things that she's been struggling throughout the season with and fixing the things that she needed to change," said Neti Maile, Taylorsville's third captain. "She never had to say anything. She just kind of stepped up and took the role."

Evensen's play has been a ray of light in an otherwise difficult campaign for the Warriors. In addition to losing Black and Jensen, Taylorsville had a 4-16 record as of last week's games but had won its last two.

"It's been quite a challenge," Evensen said. "For a while our team was really down when a lot of us were getting injured. We had a really rough start, so I think that we just had to work through it, and we've come together a lot."

As much as Evensen has begun to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with and created high hopes for the future, Bohney is enjoying the ride Evensen's development is on right now.

"It's been fun watching her progress and it's been fun watching her grow," Bohney said. "She still has a little ways to go but that's what it's all about." —

Mattie Evensen file

The 6-foot-2 junior has 10 double-doubles.

She is averaging 16 points in her last five games.

She has stepped in after injuries to two team captains.