Gaining confidence, Bolitho takes off for Glenwood
Admittedly, confidence is one area of her game that Glenwood senior point guard Maddie Bolitho struggles with. Whether that’s deciding when to shoot, when to get others involved, or simply believing in herself and how good of a basketball player she truly is, finding that confidence is a constant battle for the terrific Demons point guard.
Lately, though, the talented senior has found a handle on the ever-elusive confidence and has raised her game to a new level in her final season in the red and white of Glenwood.
“The last two years, I was scared or timid to attack the basket and shoot the ball, but this year I knew I needed to step it up,” Bolitho said. “When Tatum [Peterson] went down, I knew that this team needed a leader on the floor to step up and do their part, and I knew that I was the next in line.
“With this being my last year, I realized that I have the capabilities to be a leader, and by being a leader, my confidence is up, which has allowed everything else in my game to fall into place.”
So far, so good for the quick point guard. Through 15 games, Bolitho is averaging 7.1 points, 3 assists, 2.5 steals, 2.5 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game, shooting 38 percent from the floor, including 28 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Although the Demons are battling nightly for every possible win that they can get, sitting at 8-7 (3-2 4A Western Slope League) on the year, Bolitho has given the Demons a chance each night thanks to the increase in output at both ends of the floor. That has tied directly into her increase in confidence this winter, even if she does fight it game to game at times.
“My confidence has been building. … It’s been a lot better this year,” Bolitho said. “Sometimes, my thinking is I don’t want to hurt my team, meaning I don’t want to take a bad shot. But this year I’ve realized that I can’t just sit back and watch. I have to be aggressive and be a threat, because if I’m not, the other team won’t worry about me offensively.
“That’s something I’ve been working on this season, and I feel like I’m in a good place,” she added. “This year I’m really trying to balance everything with my game on the floor. I feel like this year has been different and teams aren’t expecting as much offense out of me, in terms of scoring, as years past. I’ve been attacking the basket a bit more compared to last year, because I had never looked to drive in years past, so I don’t think teams are expecting it this year.”
Along with attacking the basket more often this year, Bolitho has busted out a go-to shot in the lane: A right-handed runner over the top of taller guards and forwards, allowing her to get off an efficient shot closer to the hoop while avoiding some contact in the paint and blocked shots. Very few high schoolers can pull off that difficult shot in the paint with regularity, but with Bolitho it’s a deadly part of her offensive arsenal that she’ll lean on to get buckets.
“I’ve been working on that awhile, honestly,” Bolitho said. “I just rarely used it in a game the last few years, but it’s my most comfortable shot right now. I go to it a lot. My dad has helped me to go to floater in the lane; he’s always gotten me to work on that shot because to get over the trees in the lane, you have to go up high.”
As the daughter of former Glenwood standout basketball player Norm Bolitho, Maddie has had firsthand lessons from her father, as well as basketball influences such as current boys head coach Cory Hitchcock and girls head coach Rhonda Moser. Having such affluent basketball minds around her has allowed the Glenwood guard to get some of the very best instructions on and off the floor, leading to her breakout season for Glenwood.
“He’s [Norm Bolitho] always been the one who’s had me around a basketball since a young age, and he’s always encouraged me to get into the gym to get shots up,” Bolitho said. “He’ll help me take all the advice I get and decide what to add to my game.
“But honestly, coach Mo has really had such a huge impact on me. She’s made me into the player I am today. She’s always encouraging me and has helped me gained my confidence as a player into who I am today.”
Moser first saw Bolitho on the junior varsity team when the current head coach was the JV head coach. But since taking over the Demon program in 2015-16, Moser has seen the growth of Bolitho — not only as a player, but as a person. Sometimes, that’s the most rewarding thing for a coach of young athletes to see.
“I’ve seen that a lot in her,” Moser said. “When I first started coaching her, it was almost like a timid, stray pup at the pound and was nervous about being hard or soft on them. So I had to learn how to deal with Maddie from an emotional standpoint and whether to be hard or soft at times, and she had to learn to deal with that at times as well. So, to see her develop mentally and physically has been really remarkable because she means so much to this program.”
While Bolitho is known more as an offensive player around the valley due to her 3-point shooting ability and her knack for getting into the paint this season, arguably the strongest facet of her game is her defense. With a guard dog mentality on the ball, Bolitho has emerged as a lock-down defender for the Demons on the perimeter, allowing Glenwood to put together some impressive defensive performances in the first 15 games of the season.
A lot of credit for Bolitho’s emergence as a strong defender can be attributed to her experience as a libero for the Glenwood volleyball team the last two seasons.
“Being a libero on the volleyball court, you are basically the defensive leader because you are always in the back row seeing everything, and you have to be very vocal to tell everyone where to go,” Bolitho said. “That was always very hard for me because I’m quiet, but this year I had one of my best seasons in volleyball. I knew from the season that I had the potential to be very good and have confidence in myself. I’ve kind of carried that mentality over from volleyball, knowing that I still have to be that same player and make a name for myself. I can’t let my senior year go to waste.”
When the offensive might not be there for Bolitho in certain matchups, the senior can always rely on her defensive effort to help keep the Demons in the game. When she’s locked in defensively, so too are her teammates, which makes for a difficult time for opposing offenses against a fast, determined Glenwood unit.
In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that Bolitho is one of the top guards defensively on the Western Slope. It all comes down to effort, and she possesses that nightly.
“Her read defense this year has made a huge jump, and I think a part of that is because she’s realized she’s a good basketball player,” Moser said. “She’s always worked towards that, but this year she’s now realizing that she’s a good basketball player and can compete with anyone. That confidence has carried into how she carries herself on the floor. At times in the past, she’s allowed offensive frustrations to make their way into her defensive effort, but this year that’s just not the case.
“She does a great job of getting back and battling for us defensively,” Moser said. “It’s had a huge effect on the entire team.”
Bolitho and the Demons will take the court again on Thursday night against the Palisade Bulldogs inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium in a pivotal 4A Western Slope tilt, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.