Maddie Dodgen has experienced so much change in her varsity season with the Northwest girls basketball program.
She’s witnessed a change with the head coach and a change in her position on the floor. The senior wing has shown a toughness and brand of basketball that is helping the Lady Texans program evolve from afterthought to contender.
The 5-9 Dodgen has helped Northwest (7-7, 0-2 in District 5-6A) off to another respectable start. A 3-point specialist and one of three team captains, she’s shooting about 33 percent to build an 8.1 points per game average along with four rebounds.
“This is important to her,” Northwest girls coach Rusty Johnson said. “She absorbs everything that you tell her. And you can tell she believes you when you look into her eyes. Maddie is the ultimate high school athlete. She loves basketball and wants to keep maturing in her game.”
Although she never played for former coach Wayne Parker, Dodgen noticed a difference in the way he ran his program from the way new coach Johnson runs his. Parker was more laid back and quiet. Johnson brought a different energy and intensity that appealed to his players’ emotions and enticed them to play at a higher level.
But it took some time to adjust. It wasn’t that Dodgen resisted. Far from it. She just needed to become more and more used to it. By the end of the 2013-2014 season, both coach and player were understood each other.
“It just took a little time but I understood what coach Johnson was trying to do,” she said. “When he first got there, our program wasn’t strong. So he was trying to get us to believe in ourselves and believe we can win.”
When the 2014-2015 season began, Johnson had Dodgen playing in the post. But he realized that he needed her on the wing shooting than spotting up underneath the basket. He moved her to the outside by changing her position to a small forward. Since then, Dodgen has been shooting about 33 percent from the 3-point line. Johnson calls that the equivalent of shooting 50 percent from inside the line.
“You know what you’re going to get from her,” Johnson said. “There’s a trust factor with the team. She’s a steady player. If we can get the ball at the right time to her, then she’s going to get more opportunities.”
Dodgen is becoming more and more comfortable. She’s not going to just stay out on the perimeter and shoot jumpers. But becoming a good shooter is a work in progress. So far the work she has put in is starting to make a difference.
Her family has had some preliminary discussions with the coaching staffs at Abilene Christian and Tarleton State. Should those coaching staffs like what they see through film and on-site evaluation, then who knows what it will mean for her future.
“I’ve just tried to be more aggressive with what I’ve been doing,” Dodgen said. “I just hope I can keep playing well and be a leader for this team. I just want to be a positive influence on and off the court.”
Byron Nelson update
The Lady Bobcats (7-6, 0-1 in District 5-6A) lost to Denton Ryan, 39-29, on Dec. 16 and faced a major challenge on Dec. 19 against Keller. Hannah Sellinger scored nine points to lead Nelson which was outscored, 14-6, the fourth quarter.