Tonawanda News —
Without Ian Gilhousen this season the North Tonawanda boys basketball team is 1-4. With him, it has gone 5-2 and strung together five-straight NFL victories over the course of a month earlier this season.
NT coach Ryan Mountain said that while Gilhousen recovered from an early-season illness, his team was able to come together. He even added that it may have been a blessing in disguise.
"There's no substitute for hard work and athleticism and Ian gives us that, but he also gives our team belief," Mountain said. "We look to him as the obvious leader and he gives us a belief that we can win games. We did such a nice job coming together without him. It gave other guys minutes for growth and now with Ian he's giving us about 15 points a game (currently averaging 12.9) and a lot of athleticism in transition. You have to account for that on the defensive end."
Watching his team go to battle without him took a toll on Gilhousen, who attended every practice while he recovered to help stay mentally sharp. The team's slow start made him even hungrier to get back on the court.
Before he returned against Kenmore West on Dec. 18, he demonstrated his leadership abilities from the bench.
"I wanted to get the journey going with everybody and it was tough watching on the sidelines," he said. "I was trying to be a motivator, not just for myself but the team in little things like drills and telling them what they should do right. Just being there for them and help coaching them up. I've been doing this for almost three years now and I know what it takes to get everybody ready."
And everybody on the team looks up to Gilhousen, maybe none more than his good friend, point guard Nehemiah Stone, who has looked up to Gilhousen his entire career. The sophomore tried to offer up his spot as the T-NT football game's MVP to Gilhousen, giving him all the credit for the win.