High School Sports

Torn ACL? Wilson guard Josie Matz commits to University of Portland, anyway

The News Tribune

Torn anterior cruciate ligament?

So what?

Wilson High School’s Josie Matz verbally committed to play basketball at the University of Portland on Monday despite the right knee injury that cost her the end of her junior season.

“I’m pretty relieved,” Matz said. “The recruiting process — it was stressful, especially not being able to play this summer.

“But the support Portland showed me, it opened my eyes to how dedicated they’ve been to me.”

Matz led Wilson in scoring (20.4 per game) and assists (7.4) last year before tearing her ACL in a win against Central Kitsap on Jan. 27.

Matz is still recovering from the tear, but she said she’s hoping to be cleared to play sometime in the next two weeks.

"Obviously, suffering an ACL tear at the end of your junior year would be tough for anyone," Birge said. "But it has made her mentally and physically stronger. She wasn’t on the big summer grind. She had to work on her leadership and other things that we put on the backburner. I cannot wait to see her impact this year."

Matz chose Portland because the school kept recruiting her even after the injury. She said the school had been talking to her since her freshman year, so she decided to choose the Pilots over Central Washington, California Baptist and Air Force.

"Any time you suffer adversity, your eyes are opened to the business and the negatives of the sport," Birge said. ""I am beyond proud that she is committed to a school that showed they are going to be with her during her development."

Without Matz, who will earn her fourth varsity letter this year, Wilson lost to Lincoln in the league title game two games later, ensuring Wilson wasn’t the 3A Narrows champion for the first time in four years.

But the Rams still rebounded behind Kiki Knox, the 3A Narrows co-MVP, and reached the 3A state tournament for the sixth consecutive season. Wilson lost in the regional round of state to eventual state champion Bellevue.

The time off the court has allowed Matz to continue to develop her shot, as well as her relationships with her teammates. Birge sounded ecstatic at the thought of getting a new-and-improved Matz back on the court.

"She’s stronger, physically, and her shot is more defined," said Birge, a former point guard at Foss. "I think she’ll be smarter in her attacks and how she can make teams pay. Her leadership – oh my gosh. I think this year she will be so much better than she even was last year."

She served as Wilson’s team manager during its run to state. It’s a role she won’t mind relinquishing.

“I think I’ll be perfectly fine with that,” Matz said.