Some high school basketball standouts rightfully gain considerable notoriety as they lead their teams to championships or achieve significant individual goals.
But just below the top of the standings are legions of players doing similar work out of that limelight in an effort to elevate their teams beyond expectations — even if ultimately that may not result in a gold ball.
Among the many examples of the latter in the state’s North region this winter is Bryce Gilbert, a junior from Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.
The 5-foot-10 guard has been one of the more efficient scorers in the region, averaging 25.5 points per game — 382 points in 15 games — on 50 percent shooting from the field.
“Bryce doesn’t force shots,” said PCHS coach Jamie Russell, whose Pirates are 7-8 and battling for a Class C North playoff berth entering the final days of the regular season. “A lot of his points come in transition, he’s quick defensively and gets a few easy baskets a game by steals.
“He’s a very unselfish player — I have to remind him occasionally that he’s passing up shots that he could easily make.”
Gilbert’s offensive exploits have been all the more impressive given that opposing coaches are among those keenly aware of what he’s been accomplishing this season — though most haven’t quite figured out how to keep him check.
“He has seen everything,” Russell said, “box-and-ones, diamond-and-ones, double-teams, face-guarding. A credit to his teammates is that they are willing to screen for him and create opportunities for him.”
That teamwork has enabled Gilbert to be remarkably consistent as a scorer. He’s totaled at least 18 points in every game, with a high of 35 during a recent win over Penquis Valley of Milo when he shot 11 of 14 from the field with four 3-pointers and also contributed 18 rebounds, six assists, three steals — and zero turnovers.
“He had one the most impressive games numbers-wise that I have coached,” said Russell, who is closing in on 350 career victories.
Gilbert’s work on the boards against Penquis Valley also is a prime example of his ability to defy his average height this winter to average a robust eight rebounds per game.
“One of our downfalls this year has been our inability to keep opposing teams off the glass,” said Russell. “He has taken it upon himself to help us improve in that area.”