DARKE COUNTY – Two seniors who had big breakthrough weeks are this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week.
This week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week are Arcanum boys basketball player Maverick Hildebrand and Bradford girls basketball player Mandi Bates.
Hildebrand’s big week started with a game-high 15 points in a matchup against Mississinawa Valley.
“He’s a kid that’s continued to improve throughout the year,” Arcanum boys basketball coach Marcus Bixler said. “He had a really nice week for us.”
The following day Hildebrand helped Arcanum defeat Fort Recovery, who was ranked seventh in the Associated Press’ Division III state rankings. Hildebrand scored 4 points in the game, but his big contribution came on the defensive end where he was matched up with Fort Recovery’s best player, Micaiah Cox.
“He was a key component inside for us and being able to slow down Fort Recovery’s post play,” Bixler said.
While Hildebrand hasn’t put up big stats throughout the year, he’s been a key player for the Trojans with his hustle on both offense and defense.
“One of the things he does extremely well on both ends is running the floor,” Bixler said. “He’s got a high motor for a kid his size.”
As a senior, Hildebrand also is one of Arcanum’s leaders.
“Those group of seniors understand the way we want things done, and they work to make sure they’re done the right way,” Bixler said.
Bates led Bradford to three wins this past week with huge offensive games, scoring 30 points against Twin Valley South, 36 against Parkway and 30 against Mississinawa Valley.
“This was the best she’s ever played in her four years of varsity basketball,” Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee said. “Nothing against the rest of our kids but she’s at a completely different level. I’m just talking energy, drive, everything like that.”
Bates has been a big-time player all season as she’s third among Darke County girls with 16.5 points a game this year. She’s also among the top 10 in the county with 5.6 rebounds a game.
“She’s playing really good basketball as a whole right now,” McKee said.
One of the keys to her success has been getting to the free throw line. In her last three games the Bradford senior made 41 of her 44 free throw attempts.
Bates also is a strong passer and uses her athletic ability and size to maneuver her passes around defenders. She and her teammates have been moving the ball well, McKee said, which has led to her big scoring outputs.
“We’re starting to move the ball well as a team,” McKee said. “We have all five players moving. We have the ball moving.”
Along with being a great player, Bates has taken on a bigger leadership role this season.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen change this year is just her leadership,” McKee said. “She’s really kind of turned into a coach on the floor, which is every coach’s dream.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.