SPRINGVILLE — Expectations were high for the Springville-Griffith Institute girls varsity basketball team in 2011. Heading into the winter sports season, Springville returned a senior-laden team, including Olivia Emerling, who ranked second on Springville’s all-time scoring list. Springville coach Chris Mathewson had four players penciled in, on his starting lineup. The fifth and final spot was up in the air. Mathewson was weighing a decision to pull up Tainne Dallas from junior varsity and plug her into the starting lineup. So, the coach asked his two senior captains, Emerling and Alex Wiede, what they thought.
“I remember talking to them and I asked them what they thought we should do,” said Mathewson. “They identified Tainne as being one of the most reliable and dependability girls we had in the program, at the time. We had a lot of experience, on that team; we weren’t worried about scoring or ball handling. We worried about some of our weaknesses, on defense and rebounding. We just needed a dependable player that did what she was asked to do. That was exactly what Tainne was, early on.”
Mathewson made the decision to insert Dallas into the starting lineup and the rest is history. Dallas was a key catalyst for the team that season, as the squad went to the Section VI B1 Championship game. Fast forward three years and Dallas is in her final season as a Lady Griff. The three-year starter and two-time captain has been Springville’s leader this season, Mathewson noted.
“She’s such a strong leader,” the coach said, of Dallas. “She’s talked to me about being a coach, down the road someday. That’s how she plays. She always wants to know ‘Why are we running this,’ or ‘Why are we doing that.’ She’s the type of player that can recognize what the opposition is running and direct our team to the best situation to win. She listens to me all the time. It’s refreshing, for a coach, to hear her talking to the team and recognizing the same things I am, during games.”
Dallas may also be found, during the offseason, packing her car full of teammates to take them to summer leagues.
“It’s leadership things like that,” said Mathewson. “Any time I need someone, she steps up.”
Dallas hasn’t missed a game at the varsity level, playing in 45 straight games. The aspect of her game that is most important, according to Mathewson, is her versatility.
“She can thrive at every position on the floor,” he said. “She’s probably a natural ‘two’ or ‘three’ but because she can play the ‘four’ and the ‘five’ defensively, she allows us to do things with other players that gives us the best chance to win. She’d much rather play guard, but she’s willing to play the post, if that makes us better.”
While Dallas’ 5-foot-7 frame may be undersized, compared to her opponents in the post, she can overcome that with her court awareness and always being in a good position, noted Mathewson. Her ability to compete with taller defenders has helped Dallas become one of Springville’s most consistent rebounders, the last three seasons. This year, Dallas is Springvillle’s second leading rebounder.
“She really works at the little things,” Mathewson said. “Whether it’s how to play a gap or how to play a cutter, or how to play help defense. Ever since I’ve known her, when she was on JV, she’s always approached me about those kinds of things. Her footwork is so good; she’s always in great position. She’s always looking to improve her game.”
Dallas was named a second-team all-star last season and also plays volleyball and softball at S-GI. As for her last season on the hardwood, she’ll be looking to guide a senior-laden squad of her own, on a deep playoff run.
“When I think about it, out of all the boys and girls I’ve coached, she’d probably be in the starting lineup of my all-time team,” Mathewson said. “A coach always needs that player that’s always team first; willing to do whatever the team needs to win. You can have your three-point shooter, you can have you 500-point scorer, you can have your great post player, but you need that player that says ‘What can be done, this game? OK, sign me up for that.’”
Dallas is the daughter of Jeanne and Dan Dallas.