South Charlotte

Cannon's senior adapts to become Cougars' go-to player

Matthew Godley gave up on basketball for three years, looking to pursue a career in auto racing instead.

Having seen success as a driver since age 9 in Bandoleros, Legends and late-model series, it seemed like the logical choice. Then the economy took a downfall.

"Some of my sponsors had to back out," said Godley. "But I took advantage of another opportunity that seemed a little dark. I picked basketball back up."

After struggling though injuries and having to catch up to his peers' more-developed skill sets, the Cannon senior, who leads the Cougars with his 19 points per game average, is finally seeing the switch pay off.

"He's played some incredibly strong basketball," said Cougars' basketball coach Glen Taylor.

"Matt's obviously been our leader, the guy we lean on the most offensively, defensively, emotionally."

Taylor said he's been impressed by Godley, especially with how he's handled the past two years.

"It starts to reveal your character and what you're made of when things don't go exactly how you hoped," said Taylor.

Godley's first year back on the basketball court was short-lived last season. After starting out averaging nearly 12 points and eight rebounds a game, he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus seven games into Cannon's season.

Even though it was a hard time, the 6-5, 200-pound forward said, it allowed him to learn more about himself.

"My drive and desire to play the game went up a tremendous amount just sitting on the sideline and seeing my teammates fight on," said Godley.

Back to full strength, Godley demonstrated his scoring ability by tallying 41 points against Freedom Christian to tie Cannon's single-game scoring record. He now shares the mark with former Cougar Jarrell Eddie, who's now a sophomore starter at Virginia Tech.

Since his breakout performance, Taylor said, the unselfish Godley has taken over the team.

With a 6-17 start, including a 1-3 record in the CISAA, both Taylor and Godley said they're proud of the team.

"We're not going to quit, and (we) hold each other to a high standard," said Godley. "We just come in with a chip on our shoulder and try to make the most out of our situation."

Taylor agreed.

"People may look at our record and say, 'They're not very successful,' " he said. "But I think it only tells a small fraction of the story."

Godley, who admits he's hasn't given up completely on racing, will play basketball at Division III Denison next year.

"I guess I'm pursuing both," he said.