Area Male Athlete: Pierz's Tautges taking things to extreme
Matt Tautges Year: Senior School: Pierz Sport: Basketball Position: Guard Highlights: Finished with 56 points in two games last week Joe Kahl had little trouble describing his guard. "Extreme athletic ability." Without much prodding, those were t...
Highlights: Finished with 56 points in two games last week
Joe Kahl had little trouble describing his guard.
"Extreme athletic ability."
Without much prodding, those were the words that flowed out of the first-year head boys basketball coach of the Pierz Pioneers when asked about Matt Tautges.
The senior scorer has been a bright spot in a learning season for the Pioneers, who entered the Section 6-2A playoffs with a 3-23 record.
In those 26 games, Tautges has amassed 512 points or 19.7 points per game. How is he able to do it against defenses that are tailored to stopping him?
"I would say just his knowledge of the game and his speed," said Kahl. "He's got a very quick first step. He's very good at ball-handling and then his ability to either get to the hoop or shoot the ball from the outside make it hard for defenders. There are times when it's 1-on-5 and he's still able to get to the hoop or knock down mid-range jumpers."
Tautges had a different answer.
"It helps that my teammates are willing to do all the hard work and get me open and get me the ball," he said. "They're doing a lot to get me open so it isn't just me."
But with the ball in his hands, Tautges is a multi-threat scorer. Here's his breakdown of when he's got a rare one-on-one situation.
"I usually try to wait and see what his feet are doing to see what's going to be open," Tautges said. "It's a lot of changing speeds. That way you get them on the heels of their feet and then you go. But then you have to get by the second wave of defenders, too.
"I've seen box-and-1s a few times and double teams where they'll leave a guy open. Then all you have to do is pass to the open guy and they make the shot so you can't do that much longer."
When Tautges isn't scoring, he's doing everything else. He has 157 rebounds, 104 assists, 53 steals and 13 blocked shots this season. He's shooting 35 percent from the field, 71 percent from the line and 29 percent from 3-point.
His 523 points this season pushed him past Caleb Janson for third all time for most points in a single season behind Preston Weber (556) and Dustin Monson (569).
"There is a reason why he's able to stay on the court the whole game and it's because of his work in the offseason," Kahl said. "Even during the season after practice, he's still there working on his game. Just his desire to win, as well, keeps him on the floor. He has that never-say-die attitude. It's good for these younger kids to see him on the floor and be able to learn from him and see what it takes to be an elite athlete."
Tautges tallied 31 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in a loss to Holdingford. He finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and two assists in a loss to Eden Valley-Watkins. He surpassed 30 points four times this season, including back-to-back 34-point performances against Pillager and Milaca.
"I knew it was going to be kind of a rougher season so I wanted to improve a lot as the season went on," Tautges said. "We've seemed to have done that. It's been a successful season in my eyes in that regard.
"We're pretty young and inexperienced and that makes it tougher, but over the season I can see how much better everyone has gotten. It helps that everybody works hard. That makes it easier."
Tautges, who pitched Pierz to the state baseball tournament last spring, plans on playing baseball next year at the College of St. Scholastica. Kahl believes no matter what Tautges decides he'll be successful because of his work ethic.
And Tautges will look back on prep career with fondness.
"I think I'll be most proud of how the community follows along with everything," said Tautges. "I'll be walking around town and somebody will stop and ask me how things are going. I think that's nice about going to a small school. The whole community knows about everything and you have an impact on the community not just the team or the school."
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Gavin Smith, Staples-Motley, scored 28 points against Barnesville and 27 against Detroit Lakes.
Jack Silgen, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 27 points and seven assists against Aitkin.
Noah Gindorff, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds against Aitkin.