Monroe’s leader Matteah Felix signs NLI to Columbia Basin College Basketball
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Timing is important in basketball. From a backdoor cut, to calling a timeout, to making substitutions, timing is a big part of the game. Timing hasn’t exactly been on Monroe senior Matteah Felix’s side throughout her basketball career. The timing of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented her from competing at her first Regional Tournament in 2020. The timing of an ankle injury prevented her from being 100% on senior night (though there is a cool story that goes with that that will be explained soon). The timing of exposure to COVID-19 prevented her from competing with her team at the Alaska State Tournament this March.
Fittingly, the timing of Felix’s college signing was a bit off as well. While most student-athletes have officially signed to the next level, schools are still looking for talent, and players are still looking for a school.
In a later-than-normal signing, Felix put pen to paper in front of supporters at Monroe Catholic High School to play basketball at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington.
Without regionals or a state tournament appearance, Felix thought she may have played her final organized basketball game when she played a total of 40 seconds against Valdez on senior night.
“For awhile I didn’t think I was going to go [play college basketball]. At first, I was super unsure, but then I was like, ‘what would it be like to come from Fairbanks and then leave the state to go play with an old friend that I have known forever?’ I was like yeah, definitely have to.”
That former teammate is West Valley senior guard Ali May, who signed to Columbia Basin in May. With the influence of May and good interactions with the coaching staff, Felix was ready to make the jump to college basketball.
Towards the end of her senior year, Felix suffered a lower leg injury that kept her from playing at full strength during the team’s final home game of the season. However, it didn’t prevent her from playing.
After getting a defensive stop on Valdez’s opening possession, guard Shelby Eidenmiller found an open Felix, who was planted on the wing on the offensive end. On a bum ankle, Felix drilled the shot - nothing but net - followed by applause from the home crowd.
“It is actually really funny because I thought I was going to air ball and it was like a perfect shot,” Felix said with a laugh reflecting on that moment.
And the coach who drew up the play had full confidence in Felix in that moment.
“If you think about it, the last play that she made as a basketball player, that is sort of a whacky idea,” said Monroe Girls Coach Bob Burcell. “She is out there and can barley walk. A lot of people would have been, ‘my foot really hurts’, or ‘I don’t think I should be out there.’ There might be some fear or doubt there. Not Matteah, she goes out there and does what you ask her to do. I had no doubt she would make that shot. She is very coachable.”
Felix is a sharpshooter, reliable defender and vocal leader on any team she plays on and much of that was developed as a member of Monroe Catholic.
“I was giving some thought to it last night that everybody, Coach [Frank Ostanik], Coach Bob, like all the coaches all the teammates, they all played a super big role and have always pushed me.”
Felix will join Columbia Basin this fall, led by head coach Amy Sokaitis and feature mostly Washington-based athlets - and now, a pair of Alaskans.
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