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No more Wild Child
Megan Gilbert has been in her share of trouble before. And her name is still associated with it, only now its the kind she causes opposing teams.
Gilbert, a 5-7 senior guard, has the South Kitsap girls basketball team off to its best start in years as the Wolves entered Friday nights Narrows League Bridge Division game at Bremerton with a 6-2 overall record.
But the success the team is having this year is a direct reflection of the success shes been enjoying the last few years since transforming herself from a troublemaker to a trouble causer.
Its the best thing that ever happened to me, Gilbert says of her favorite sport. It keeps me out of trouble. I dont even know how I started playing basketball. But I know I love the game now.
Actually, the former soccer player and Port Orchard native does know how it all happened. She first tried her hand at roundball in seventh grade at Marcus Whitman after a friend suggested she try out.
It wasnt long after that Gilbert was playing varsity ball.
She would never spend much time at the junior varsity level. As a sophomore, she bounced between JV and varsity and last year, as a junior, she was one of the first players coming off of coach Mike Allens bench.
Megan is a character, Allen said. Shes improved basketball-wise a lot in the time Ive been with her. But I think more than that, probably, is her ability to control her emotions, thats probably the biggest growth Ive seen out of her.
Shes a fun player to coach because shes got a lot of natural skills, Allen said. Every player is unique, and Megan is extra-unique. In a good way though.
But a lot had happened before.
Gilbert admits to stirring up some trouble in her past. She used to trash other peoples property for the sake of just doing it. She even got arrested once, although the charges were later dropped.
But playing ball changed all of that and gave her a second chance of sorts.
Basketball just kept my head in the books, Gilbert said. Ive just been trying to work hard at school and at basketball. And staying out of trouble, which is what I like.
Past things that happened werent so good, Gilbert said. And I just gotta think that basketball is my out. When Im not feeling good, I just go shoot a basketball and forget about everything.
Her reputation as a wild child was well known, as Allen soon found out. He noticed that all the junior high games he went to, Gilbert never seemed to be on the floor.
My biggest experience with Megan before she came up here was watching her on the bench, Allen said. She was always out (of a game). Every time I went out to see her it was an injury, or it was grades or it was trouble or whatever. She was always out. So I never really actually watched her play before she came up here. I just heard about her.
But since then Allen has liked what hes seen.
Gilbert leads the Wolves in scoring at 13 points a game and also leads the team in steals, with just under three a game. And her intensity on defense is what gets everyone going.
When we start playing, I get really fired up, Gilbert said. And I do feel like some people feed off of my energy. It kind of seems like we all feed off of each other. I get pumped up a lot. One good play gets me fired up.
Shes had plenty of those this year. She is usually the most intense player on the floor and will stop at nothing to get the job done.
But its kind of surprising defense would become her forte.
As the team plays defense, Megan goes, Allen said. And thats not to say shes just a follower because she does lead in her game. She steps up when the team is really playing defense and I dont think she knows that necessarily. But when were playing defense, shes more effective.
Which is a surprise to her, since she had never liked playing on the defensive side of the ball.
In fact, Allen finds it ironic that hes named her the defensive player of the game twice already this year, noting that for her to win the award just once this year would have been a stretch.
I suck at defense. I never wanted to play it, Gilbert said. And now Im working at it.
Im not really offensively driven right now, she said. I just want to play defense a lot more. But now Im starting to think if no ones going to shoot the ball, I will. Ill score the rock.
(Allen) told me I needed to step up, shoot the ball more and score, Gilbert continued. I told him Im willing to do that, so this is where Im at now.
Shes also in another place she never thought she would be at peace with herself. And in more ways than she can count.
I think about a lot of things when Im playing basketball because its the only opportunity Ive got, Gilbert said. I wouldnt be doing good in school if basketball didnt require certain grades. I think about a lot of things right before game time, and that right there just gets me pumped up and gets me to try my best.