Tucson High School Sports

MLK Classic: Amphi’s Mat’tanaya Vital Excelling Behind Training From Former Arizona Wildcats Guard Kelvin Eafon

Amphi sophomore guard Mat’tanaya VItal had the opportunity to play today where her club-team coach Kelvin Eafon competed when he was coached by Lute Olson at Arizona.

McKale Center was also welcoming to Vital as it was for her mentor, who coaches and trains her with Tucson Desert Storm. Vital finished with a game-high 18 points in Amphi’s 45-17 win over Catalina.

Amphi guard Mat’tanaya Vital brings the ball up the court for the Panthers (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Eafon also coaches and trains Amphi sophomore Nina Borns and junior Linda Smith.

Vital is soft-spoken but her play speaks volumes. She is relentless on defense (also averaging 1.4 blocks per game), makes strong finishes around the basketball and is an accomplished ball-handler who makes good passing decisions.

She averages 17.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and an incredible 5.7 steals per game.

“I try to get in the passing lanes and see what their point guard is looking at,” Vital said.

Commenting about Eafon as her coach and trainer for the last three years, Vital said, “He never settles. He always wants me to improve my game.”

Vital never changes her facial expression during games. It is hard to tell if Amphi is ahead by 20 or down by 20 just from her appearance. That focus rubs off on her teammates.

Amphi is now 9-10 overall and 1-2 in the 4A Gila after the Panthers finished 3-18 overall last season.

“It means a lot to me (to get a winning record) because last year we weren’t that good,” Vital said. “This year, we’ve gotten better as a team and we’re trying to push it.”


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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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