Maddie Bittle

Basketball Is A Way Of Life For Lady Spartans’ Bittle


By Ron Holt

Ever since she was a youngster, Bixby High’s talented 5-9 senior guard Maddie Bittle spent time in a gymnasium.

That’s where she developed a passion for basketball. It’s where she worked to improve her basketball skills. And, it was where she spent numerous hours with her family. Basketball is a way of life in her family.

“I’ve played basketball since I was about four years old. I started playing on a team around the third grade,” said Bittle, the daughter of Jay and Sherry Bittle. “My dad was always in the gym - he’s a gym rat - so I was always at the gym with him. Ever since I was growing up my dad has been a coach.

“He coached my brother, Jake, in high school and in AAU basketball. My dad would always help me with my shot. Back then, that’s just what we did … I lived in the gym. I’m in the gym as much as I can. I love it … it’s like a stress reliever.

“Going into the gym and putting shots up helps clear my head,” added Bittle, the leading scorer for the ninth-ranked Lady Spartans, 13-6 on the season.

“I played soccer until my ninth grade year but after my school season I decided to quit and concentrate on basketball. I feel like since then I’ve gotten better every year.”

The hours and hard work have paid dividends for the personable Bittle. She’s steadily improved each high school season and is playing the best basketball of her Lady Spartan career this season. She’s worked to not only improve as an all-around, consistent player but to also make a positive contribution as a leader.

Bittle currently leads the Lady Spartans in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game. She’s second on the team in assists with 42, leads the team with 33 steals and has 122 rebounds. She’s hit 50 percent of her two-point attempts, 34 percent on three-point attempts and 79 percent on free throw tries.

Bittle, who averaged 13.9 points a game last year as a junior, has developed into one of the top players in the Frontier Valley Conference and in Class 6A this season. Her performance is worthy of all-state recognition.

“I first coached Maddie in eighth grade. She’s always been a really great athlete and was really good in soccer before she decided to focus on basketball and since that time she’s really improved her skills,” said Lady Spartan head coach Tina Thomas.

“I think the biggest growth, in my opinion, was from last year to this year. The growth has been mainly in the mental aspect. She would get down on herself in the past and get upset but now she has the mindset of a leader and the mindset of a champion. She’s not letting anything deter her from her desire to help her team win,” Coach Thomas added.

“She has developed a pull up jump shot. She’s just a well-rounded player. She can shoot the three and drive to the hoop and does a good job of finishing a drive.”

Bittle, who is a member of the National Honor Society and involved in Student Council at BHS, agrees with her coach. She credits her teammates, coaches and family with her progression. Her 24-year-old brother Jake, who was a starting guard at South Dakota State, spends time assisting her.

“I wanted to get better with my jump shot. I’ve been working on that lately,” said Bittle, who worked with former Bixby assistant Kara Faulk Wernli on improving the jump shot. “I feel like my shot is really coming along and my percentages have raised a lot this year.

“My brother still goes to the gym with me. He’s helped me become the player I am today. If it wasn’t for him, my dad and my family, especially my parents, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Bittle’s motivation for improving her play was to benefit the Lady Spartans with a goal of producing the finest season of her career. She had personal goals but also had team goals she hoped would be realized this season. Some have been realized and some are a work in progress.

“I wanted to be a good leader and I hoped we’d play as a team more this year. I didn’t want a split up team. I wanted us to play as a family and we’re definitely playing like that … we’re playing for our teammates this season,” said Bittle, who plans to play college ball but is uncertain of her future plans.

“I honestly didn’t think we’d be this good. I believed in my teammates but Class 6A and this conference are so tough. But, we’ve come out and handled adversity and played through everything. I’m so proud of my teammates … we all just want to win and we want to go to state. I think we’ve improved during the season and we’ve beaten some good teams. I believe we have a chance to go to the state.”

Bittle, who plans to be a dental hygienist in the future, realizes the regular season is approaching the end. She and fellow senior teammate Sarah Tyree will be honored, along with their parents, during the regular season finale against Broken Arrow on Feb. 16.

She’s tried not to think too far ahead this season but has instead focused on enjoying the journey.

“I’ve realized ever since the beginning of the year that this was my last season but I just had the attitude that I had to savor the moment every time out. This is the fastest season I’ve ever been involved in,” she said. “My freshman year was super slow and my sophomore year was the same but it’s crazy how fast this season has gone by.

“During every practice and game, I realize this is my last year with my teammates. I just try to go out there and give it my all.”

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