Mountain Pointe started 7-1 and sits at 9-6 heading into January.

By Jason P. Skoda, Perp Sports Director

Logan Matulis has made a quick rise in his first year as a starter for the Mountain Pointe boys basketball program.

The senior small forward played in every game last year, but he was in the back half of the rotation most of the time.

After averaging 17.5 points over a four game stretch early in the season, he has a lot more eyes on him this season.

College coaches, talent evaluators and opposing teams all have taken notice.

Mountain Pointe coach Hosea Graham loves to see it coming together for Matulis but the eyes his most concerned with are those of his fellow, mostly younger, teammates.

“They are watching him. The young guys are watching for sure,” Graham said. “If he goes we go well. He doesn’t go well, he starts loafing, and then I have to yank him.

“He’s doing well, but he has to be more consistent. He knows if he isn’t hustling or doing what we him to do I’ll take him right out.”

It's all about accountability and putting the team first.

Loaf? Have a seat. No call, no show for a practice? Keep your warm up clothes on. Get a technical? Expect to have a talk after that game about selfishness. 

Graham held true to that sentiment by sitting Matulis most of the first half in last week’s game against Mesa, and he responded with 12-point second half.

Matulis accepts that role, and knows it is vital for the team’s development as region play becomes the focus now that the calendar has flipped to January.

“They took to me as a leader this year and I have to lead by example,” Matulis said after a 79-64 loss to Mesa “I need to be more consistent with that and make sure Coach knows he can always count on me. He’ll let me know that I need to set a good example.”

The Pride started the year winning seven of its first eight games. It was great for the team’s winning percentage, but Graham believes it also has something to do the bit of a tailspin the team has been in since, going 2-5 since then to sit at 9-6 before hosting Highland on Friday night.

“Our kids got a little full themselves, which is OK,” said Graham, who led the Pride to 17 wins last year after two losing years to start his career with Mountain Pointe. “Our objective was to try and have it be a springboard to what our next steps were, and gauge our progress. We know now we have to pick it up and practice harder.

We have to be more focused in practice and challenge each other. My staff and I have to work the kids harder. We’ve been a little delicate with them and now it is time to really challenge them.”

The Pride looks to correct and keep improving to align themselves with some of the 6A Conference contenders.

The offense is coming along – averaging 56.4 points a game – behind sophomore Malik Salahuddin (11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists), Matulis (10.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists) and sophomore Khlid Price (9.7 points).

Senior Rashie Hodge (6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds), senior Sherman Dedrick (5.1 points, team-high 5.4 rebounds) and junior Selah Thomas (7.2 points) have been solid contributors as well.

It’s a good mix of young and talented players that are the future of the program and veterans trying to make their mark while setting a new standard.

“We all like being around each other,” Salahuddin said. “We do things outside of basketball. We have a chance to be pretty good.

“We started out playing our game and started 7-1 and got a little high ourselves. We will get back to playing our game, pushing the basketball and defense first, and January should be a successful month.”

The final 10 games of the regular season will go along way in determining how the 2016-17 squad will be remembered.

“I am happy with them and where we are at,” Graham said. “There is a lot of work to do. We played a team like Mesa and they win because they are more disciplined than us. That’s what we want to be and what want to get to. It’s going to take more time.

“We are close, and it’s been process, but I think we are taking the right steps with this group.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

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