Matthews is Millers' gain Senior once wanted to attend Western

January 17, 1993|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

One day, Milford Mill's Yolanda Matthews would like to own a funeral home.

For the moment, however, Matthews is content to be one of the area's best girls basketball players. And trying to contain her is quite an undertaking for her opponents.

Matthews, a 5-foot-9 senior forward who plans to study mortuary science in college, is averaging 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds.

This season she became Milford Mill's all-time leading scorer (1,234 points) and has led the Millers to a 6-3 record.

L Matthews also has made a fan of Western coach Breezy Bishop.

"I first saw her play when she was about 12 years old, and I said: 'My goodness. What a talent,' " Bishop said. "She has a lot of natural ability and raw talent that hasn't been tapped yet."

Bishop and Matthews met during a summer league. Since then, Bishop has become somewhat of a mentor to Matthews.

Matthews had attempted to gain admission into Western before her freshman year, but her grades did not meet the requirements.

"In the eighth grade, I knew Erika Dailey and Kelly Evans, and they said they were going to Western," said Matthews, a two-time All-Metro second-team selection. "So, I planned to go there as well."

Instead, Matthews went to Milford Mill, but she never lost contact with Bishop.

"When I go to Western's games, I speak to Miss Bishop," Matthews said. "She's a nice person, and if I need help, I can call her and talk about anything."

Matthews emerged as one of Baltimore County's top players as a sophomore, when she was the area's second-leading scorer (23.5 points). Last season, Matthews averaged 16.0 points and 9.0 rebounds, although she missed nearly a month with a broken bone in her right foot.

She returned in time for the Class 1A state playoffs, in which the Millers were eliminated by Brunswick for the second straight year.

After three years at Milford Mill, however, the lure of playing for nationally ranked Western got to Matthews. And this time, her grades were good enough.

But Bishop encouraged her to stay put.

"I don't want athletes to transfer to Western just for basketball," Bishop said. "I don't believe in taking athletes from someone else's program in a player's junior or senior year."

Although she wasn't Matthews' coach, Bishop promised to help her handle the recruiting process.

"I told her I would work just as hard for her as I do for my own kids," Bishop said.

Schools such as Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Seton Hall, as well as Bowie State, have expressed interest in Matthews.

One could only speculate as to what Matthews' presence would have meant to Western this season. Even without her, the Doves are 13-0, ranked 19th in the nation by USA Today and winning by an average margin of nearly 55 points.

"When I see them play, I think, 'I could have been there,' " Matthews said. "But I don't regret it. I thought it was in my best interests to stay at Milford Mill."

=1 Not to mention Milford Mill's best interests.

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