As a sophomore at Howell High School two years ago, Matt Ganter shot well when he connected on 45 three-point baskets.
As a junior last winter, he drove to the basket well. That effort resulted in an average of nine points per game while he also led Howell in assists.
This season, as a senior, Ganter is a complete boys’ basketball player.
He is shooting great, driving great and scoring a ton of points.
Ganter is averaging 24.1 points per contest. He has made 93 field goals, 73 free throws and 45 threes.
The 5-10, 150-pound creator is doing it all.
“Last year when his shot wasn’t falling, he worked on driving and getting to the line,” said Howell coach Patrick Ramsay. “This year he’s putting it all together.”
Ganter is Howell’s best ball handler and shooter. Now that he is scoring so much, defenses are double teaming him to get the ball out of his hands.
The senior has responded in two ways: by setting up teammates, like he did last year, and by passing the ball off, running around screens and getting open for kick out passes. No one would confuse a high school player for Golden State Warriors’ star Stephen Curry. But Ganter is essentially playing the same role Curry plays for the Warriors.
“I really just feel like however many people they throw at me, I can score whenever,” Ganter said. “They are doubling me, I’m kicking and I have confidence in my teammates to make open shots or get the ball back to me.”
“It’s all coming together at the right time,” Ganter added.
It started coming together last summer for Ganter, during his AAU season with the New Jersey Shore Shots.
Early in the summer, Ganter played like he did last winter. He drove to the basket and got his points in the paint. He wasn’t confident enough in his shot again to fire away.
But then, about halfway through the season, something clicked. Ganter realized that, by driving, he would get points next to his name early in games, which gave him confidence to start shooting again.
Slowly, surely, the stroke came back. Ganter averaged 18 points per game in the Shots’ last couple tournaments, and even dropped 25 a couple times.
Then, in Howell’s first game of the season on Dec. 14 at Freehold Township High School, on the Rebels’ first possession, Ganter pulled up from four feet beyond the arc and buried a three. At the end of the third quarter, Ganter stepped back and drilled a buzzer beating trey. Howell lost, 58-46, but its point guard was back, and better than ever.
“It’s all about confidence. Last year I didn’t have confidence,” Ganter said. “From that first three I knew I was back. It was crazy. I saw it go in and the crowd was going wild.”
Howell is only 5-13 this winter. It has had trouble finding scoring beyond its senior standout. But Ganter’s season has been a highlight for the program.
With seven regular season games left, he is only 47 points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career.
“He should be able to get it,” Ramsay said.
Ganter’s evolution has earned him a chance to play at the next level, at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham campus, a Division 3 program.
“The coaches went to a couple of my later AAU games and a couple other high school games. The second high school game they came to, I told them I wanted to go,” Ganter said. “It was just a good fit because I knew I wanted to stay in New Jersey.”