When last year’s basketball season came to a close, there was a little fear around the county knowing what was coming back.
Everyone knew what they were getting with Enterprise High’s Jadyn Matthews. A positive attitude. A humble demeanor. A powerful player. A fierce competitor.
But there was something missing.
There was an unknown gap that kept her from rising to the top echelon of talent beyond the Northern Section. Rather than focus on making herself better, she turned to her new coach Anthony Williams and teammates to pull it out of her.
And in turn, Matthews’ leadership development and confidence allowed her to blossom into an elite talent in all of Northern California because she put others before herself.
“I think you saw who she really was,” said Matthews’ senior teammate Karina Archibald. “That’s just her personality. She’s always been a team-first player and is she was always trying to make everyone better.”
There was no secret who the best player was before the season started. Matthews was atop the Shasta County Sports Preseason Player Rankings list and she proved it true to the end of the season. Like everything else, she did it with humility and she did it with class, which resulted in her headlining the 2018-19 All-Shasta County Sports Girls Basketball Team as the Most Valuable Player presented by Eagle Eye Painting Company.
“She’s the best leader I’ve ever been around,” said Williams, who was a three-sport star at Enterprise a decade ago. “She knew she was the best player around but you never saw her behave that way and she knew how to motivate her teammates and lead by example.”
The stats were there – Matthews led the way with nearly 22 points to go with a steady 10 rebounds per game. She added a pair of assists, a few steals and a block per night. Her 728 points were fourth-most in in a singe season in section history.
But none of that mattered to Matthews. She had her eyes on a team goal, something bigger to her – a Northern Section title.
“She never talked about points or stats,” Williams said. “It was just win or lose with her. She was the epitome of the ‘We Not Me’ kid.”
After three years of reaching the section final, Matthews’ drive was fueled with her goal of coming out on the other end of title game in her final try.
“Since the beginning of the year I wanted that section game,” Matthews said. “Since I got pulled up as a freshman I lost all three years. I had that little chip on my shoulder and so did the other seniors. We hadn’t won one yet and that served as a lot of motivation.”
The Hornets mowed down every Northern Section foe, going 20-0 in those games and reached the section championship once again. At her side was the help of key role players like Archibald, junior Mianna Saechao and rising freshman Abby Shoff.
To get over the hump this time though, took every player’s contribution with Matthews leading the charge. She scored a team-high 18 points in the 71-50 win over arguably the best team in Foothill program history.
“She wasn’t letting any stop her this year,” Williams said. “You could just tell she wasn’t going out with a loss in that game.”
Despite being an overwhelming favorite, and the game put away in the fourth quarter, there was Matthews celebrating with fellow senior Archibald like she had just won an Olympic gold medal. The triumph after a lifetime of work for one moment.
“I remember talking to Karina before and we looked at each other and were just speechless,” Matthews said. “It was one of those times where you know you did it and are proud of what you did and we didn’t have to say anything.”
Matthews & Co. weren’t done there. Surprisingly, the Hornets were placed one division higher as a No. 3 seed and rolled their way to the NorCal Division II championship with a trifecta of double-digit wins, gutting out the last over a tough Cosumnes Oaks team.
With that win, Matthews couldn’t keep her emotions in. That’s what happens when you put all of your energy toward one goal, Williams said. Matthews concurred.
“That game had a whole different feeling for me,” she said. “It was emotional for me and we really had to work for and prove ourselves and show what we had.”
Enterprise’s season came close the next game to the eventual CIF Division II champs, Menlo of Atherton. Not long after, the postseason accolades flooded in for Matthews – Northern Section MVP and all-star appearances. She’d land on the MaxPreps All-State team, as well as the SportsStars Magazine All-NorCal Team and be named the Cal-Hi Sports Division II Player of the Year.
Her lone Division I offer came later than most. Until that point she had her sights set on Southern Oregon University, a successful NAIA program in Ashland. But when she took her official visit to Weber State in Ogden, Utah, she was hooked.
“It felt like the family I had at Enterprise,” Matthews said.
If the culture is anywhere close to that of the Hornets, it won’t be long before Matthews can achieve another one of her milestone achievements — helping the Wildcats to the Big Dance.