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Morris Sussex Sports covers 40 schools’ sports teams that consists of about 14,000 athletes in Morris, Sussex and parts of Warren counties. Out of those 14,000 athletes, Morris Sussex Sports and Parisi Speed School honor just one athlete who does something special each week with the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week.  Go to Parisi Speed School to raise your game and become faster, bigger and stronger.  Mention “Morris Sussex Sports” and receive a FREE Speed Pass to one of their world class training sessions.  

This past week there were a ton of fantastic performances in Morris-Sussex between hockey, wrestling, basketball and other sports.  But the player we felt deserved the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week the most was Morristown-Beard girls basketball player Christina DeMattheis. DeMattheis has been stellar all year long and she exemplified what this award is all about against Chatham in the Morris County Tournament Championships. Down by one point with seconds to go, Crimson guard Bridget Monaghan weaved through defenders through the length of the court. Not seeing a clear shot, she passed it across the court to DeMattheis who was ten feet away. DeMattheis took the jumper with one tick left to sink it and stun Chatham with a 34-33 victory and the Morris County title – a moment that was featured on ESPN Top 10.

We caught up with the senior as she talked about this amazing moment, the good energy the Crimson are playing with in the state tournament and what her definition of success is.

Morris Sussex Sports: What went through your mind when Bridget passed you the ball with 1-second left in the Morris County Final?
Christina DeMattheis: I was shocked when Bridget passed me the ball. I saw three girls pick her up at half court and she passed the ball to me and I just shot it without hesitation. When it went in it didn’t hit me until the crowd reacted and stormed the court.

MSS: Describe the feeling of when the shot went in and the entire crowd stormed the court.
CD: I couldn’t believe it. It all happened so quickly and I was so happy for us. No team deserved it more than we did. As a team, we worked so hard to get to this point and for us to finally complete our goal felt amazing.

MSS: How cool was it seeing yourself on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays?
CD: It was a really cool feeling being on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays. It was crazy that we were actually on TV and everyone was watching us. I felt really proud of myself and my team.

MSS: It looks like you and your teammates are genuinely having fun winning. Is that on purpose?
CD: Yes it is on purpose. We seniors especially know that we don’t have many games left so we know we have to have fun and cherish the games that we play in.

MSS: It seems coach Mike Sturgeon is allowing himself to enjoy the loose vibe. Do you think knowing you girls are enjoying yourselves, it’s making his job easier to coach?
CD: We have practice and played at an intense level all year and by him allowing us to enjoy this week has taken a little pressure off the team but we still know we have a job to do with every game.

MSS: What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened in practice or a game?
CD: The funniest thing that has ever happened was pushing Sturge in the pool before practice and the whole team jumped in with him. We all had our clothes on and half of the school was watching.

MSS: What was your “welcome to varsity basketball” moment earlier in your career?
CD: My welcome to varsity basketball was the first practice when I was welcomed onto the team by the seniors. They made it special for us and we learned to follow in their footsteps.

MSS: What opposing gym have you enjoyed playing in the most?
CD: The Morris County College gym was really amazing to play in. Having a lot of people there on both sides of the court really amped up our energy.

MSS: Who was the best player you ever played against?
CD: The best player that I have ever played against is Bridget Monaghan and she just so happens to be on my team. In practice Sturge splits up the girls into two teams so we can scrimmage and I normally guard Bridget and she is an all around great basketball player.

MSS: Do you have any pregame rituals?
CD: Before home games we turn on Bridgets’ speaker and listen to hype music to get ourselves pumped up for the game. We normally listen to Only by Nicki Minaj and rap the whole song in our locker room.

MSS: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
CD: My favorite professional athlete is a competitive horseback rider named McLain Ward. His drive and fearless attitude has inspired me greatly.

MSS: Who is your role model?
CD: My role model is my grandpa. I am really close with him and he has taught me to keep my composure, to play hard in the moment, and if I ever have a set back he reminds me that there is always another day to play. He has taught me that I can not control what others do but I can only control how I play and react to the situations at hand.

MSS: What drives you to play at such a high level?
CD: Knowing that I only have a couple games left in my high school career drives me to give it everything I have in every game I play in.

MSS: What does success mean to you?
CD: Success is not about winning or losing, its about playing your hardest, being a supportive teammate and captain, and having grace under pressure.

MSS: Well said Christina and best of luck the rest of the way!

George Muha has been covering high school sports since 2006. He feels high school scholar-athletes are the most important part of the community and highlighting their achievements on the field, in the classroom and within the community is his personal mission.

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