Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Our Winter Athletes #Unfiltered Deangela Mathis

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Our Winter Athletes #Unfiltered Deangela Mathis

Article excerpt

Southeast High senior is a state champion and HTPreps' Girls' Basketball player of the year

SARASOTA -- The email, sent from DeAngela Mathis' middle-school basketball coach to Southeast High girls coach John Harder, carried a big promise.

"Wait until you see this one," it read. "She's going to bring you a state championship."

It took until Mathis' final season as a Seminole, but the email proved prophetic. Along with senior teammates Bevin Mays, Keshawna Robinson and Janelle Gould, Mathis helped the school to its fourth girls basketball title, the third under Harder and first since 1990.

The season was a personal triumph as well for Mathis, whose all- around play earned her the HTPreps Player of the Year, Mathis' second individual award. Earlier, the 5-foot-9 forward captured the Class 5A Player of the Year.

"DeAngela Mathis was a leader," Harder said. "Offensively, she got us going. Her strength was in the go-to shot, the finisher, and I was very, very blessed to have her."

A 'Nole sixth-man as a freshman, Mathis became a reliable scorer at Southeast, but through hard work also developed into a dependable defender. Of her 660 career rebounds, 215 were collected this season.

"When I considered her defense early on," Harder said, "I used to turn my head."

But in the state championship victory over Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee, she embraced the role of defender, taking on Walton's toughest offensive foe while adding 15 points, three rebounds and two assists in the 52-35 win.

"It wasn't like that at the beginning (of her career)," Harder said. "She was only an offensive-minded girl and she learned all areas of the game, or we wouldn't have won a state championship."

On a team that finished 31-1, Mathis averaged 17 points per game, ending her career with 1,614 points, fourth highest in school history. She still managed these numbers despite playing against defenses that knew in whose hands Harder wanted the ball to end up.

Mathis wasn't shy in identifying her impact on the team.

"I felt like I was the glue," she said. "I felt like my job was to contribute on the court and be that one person who everybody looked for and looked to when they needed help with something. I was the one they looked to to bring us out (of a deficit) and I managed to do that a couple of times."

Her improvement on the defensive end, though, is what gave Mathis her most pride. "I established myself as a scorer when I was in the 10th grade," she said. "My scoring, I wasn't really worried about because either way, I was going to have to give double-digits every night in order to pull out a win.

"I had to give up some scoring, but I had no issue with that. Defensively I feel like I stepped up a lot."

The daughter of former area players Dion and Angela Mathis recently added to her collection of honors with an MVP performance at the FABC all-star game, a contest consisting of 20 of the top senior players in the state. Mathis scored 17 points, giving her, as Harder said, "coals in the fire with colleges."

"I was proud of myself," she said, "but I know I have a lot more to prove and do."

Much of that will come at the college level. …

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