Area high school feature: Putting the hurt on defenses

WARREN, Minn. -- The broken left ankle Danny Mattson suffered at a basketball camp late last July left him wondering how well his senior season would go.

WARREN, Minn. -- The broken left ankle Danny Mattson suffered at a basketball camp late last July left him wondering how well his senior season would go.

"I was worried that my ankle would be weak, that I'd lose my jumping ability and my (quick) first step," the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School senior said.

"But I figured if I'd work at it, everything would come back. The ankle is still achy at times. But it's worked out fine so far."

Mattson missed the first five games of the football season due to the injury. On the basketball court, however, he hasn't missed a beat.

As a junior, Mattson was one of the leading scorers in the state, averaging 24 points a game. This season, Mattson is just below that mark, averaging 23 points.


In the Ponies' tradition-rich program, last season he broke the single-season record for scoring average of 23.8 points, set by Casey Larson. Mattson also set the school single-game scoring record with 44 points last season. On Friday, he became the fifth 1,000-point career scorer in the program's history, joining his older brother, Evan Mattson, along with Aaron Molacek, Nathan Steer and Larson, the record-holder with 1,414 points.

"There was definitely some concern about his basketball season after the injury," W-A-O basketball coach Todd Mortimer said. "But he's the same old Danny. And we're fortunate for that. With his size, he can post up. And he can go out on the perimeter and score. He's just a tough matchup for defenses."

Outside operator

Mattson is 6 feet 4 inches in height. In a lot of programs, that height would keep him anchored around the basket. But Mattson had a late growth spurt to reach that height. And with 6-4 Zach Riopelle and 6-6 Dalton Rolland as his longtime teammates, Mattson grew up as a perimeter player and has remained primarily in that role.

"That's nice," Mattson said of his teammates' height. "It's opened things up for me."

Mattson doesn't live behind the 3-point line.

In a game earlier this week, he erupted for 39 points against Badger-Greenbush-Middle River while making just one trey.

"Danny can hit the three," Mortimer said. "But his game is more driving around people on the perimeter and hitting the pull-up jump shot from 8 to 10 feet. He has a really quick first step; defenses have trouble staying in front of him.


"He sees a lot of double teams, box-and-ones, chasers, all sorts of different defenses. They'll hold him, grab, clutch, whatever they can. Danny is used to it. He's learned he has to just fight through it. And he definitely steps up to those situations. I think he likes the challenge. He loves the game."

Mattson's notoriety as a scorer overshadows his all-around game. He also averages six rebounds and three assists a game, the latter down slightly from a year ago.

"He's always looking for the pass to the open guy," Mortimer said. "His assists will go up when we start shooting better. As a team, we're not shooting well -- yet. It will come around."

As far as the ankle injury, the only noticeable difference from pre-injury is the ankle brace Mattson now wears on the left ankle. "He never complains about the ankle," Mortimer said.

Instead, Mattson has been putting the hurt on opposing defenses.

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to .

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