If there was ever a player that persevered, it was New Franklin senior Gavin Bishop.
While starting a few games as a freshman at the post position, Bishop gradually worked his way into a starting role as one of the main ballhandlers for the Bulldogs alongside teammate Tyler Perkins.
As it turned out, New Franklin got one of the most recognizable players in the Central Activities Conference while Bishop became one of the state’s best at his position while earning all-state in Class 2 by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
While the Bulldogs finished the season at 27-2 overall, which was one of the best seasons in New Franklin history, head coach Ross Dobson said Bishop has meant a lot to the program these past four years.
“He’s one of our five seniors that the younger kids look up to,” Dobson said. “Gavin has set the bar of what is expected at his role and its been awesome to watch him grow into a young man. He’s has put in extra work after practice to have him stand out as a basketball player.”
Upon hearing that he was selected all-state, Bishop said he was excited, and proud of himself for displaying that high level of competition throughout the year.
Of course Bishop’s numbers pop out in more ways than one. Although the Bulldogs fell short in the sectional playoffs against Eugene, Bishop’s final statistics were staggering while averaging 18.6 ppg along with 7.8 rpg and 2.7 spg. He also shot 56 percent from the field, 33 percent from the three-point line and 76.2 percent from the foul line.
Dobson said in conference play this season, Bishop averaged 18.5 ppg and had his best game against Glasgow, where he scored 32 points. He also scored 26 against Pilot Grove and 21 twice against Slater.
But the most compelling statistic, according to Dobson, is that Bishop did not score less than 12 points in any conference game.
The postseason honors also piled up as Bishop was first team in the CAC (MVP), first team all-district, academic all-state, MBCA All-State and KRES All-Star.
The senior standout also eclipsed the 1,000 point mark in his career on the same night as teammate Tyler Perkins.
Bishop said that was probably the individual highlight of his career. “We both didn’t know we were that close to reaching it and to do it on the same night is pretty amazing,” Bishop said. “As far as the highlight of my career as a team, I would say it was winning the first district title for the New Franklin boys basketball team since 2006 during my junior year. This was one of the most exciting things, I have been part of, and the locker room atmosphere was even better. Our team’s ability to win that game really showed what was to come the follow year.”
Bishop said he would also be hard-pressed to pick just one game that he felt was his best game. He said a couple of different games stand out for various reasons. One in particular was the first round of the Glasgow Tournament against Glasgow. In that game, Bishop scored 32 points and said everything he put up that night felt like it was going in.
“It was a great start to that week of play,” Bishop said. “Next, the Sturgeon Tournament Championship against Salisbury. I scored 29 and just felt like a bull running through the paint. I couldn’t be stopped and defensively I was reading passes perfectly for easy baskets on the other end. Lastly, the second round of districts against Lincoln. It was a close game and I managed to go 15 for 15 at the charity stripe. This was probably one of the coolest things I have done and it was perfect timing for the situation of the game we were in.”
Bishop also recalls his biggest rival in his four year career. He said the biggest rival for the team was definitely Fayette because New Franklin had lost to them twice in the regular season his junior year and then beat them in districts.
“We took control of the game early and we played the way we wanted to play, allowing us to take the win,” Bishop said. “This past year, Slater was definitely our best rival. Both of our teams won districts the year before and did not lose many seniors. We first played Slater in the Glasgow Tournament Championship. It was a low scoring game, but it was still a dog fight. We managed to come out on top and win the championship.
“Slater was moved into our district at the beginning of the year, so we were preparing to have to play them four times this year. The next time we played them on their home court. It was a very intense and exciting game, which could’ve gone in their favor if the last shot they took at the buzzer would have went in. Fortunately for us we walked away with the win. We played them again about six days later. They came in to New Franklin and took control of the game early and didn’t slow down. They managed to beat us that night giving us the only loss during the regular season. Then, during the second round game of districts, Smithton knocked off Slater so we did not have to play them a fourth time that year. We ended up with a record of 2-1 against them, which is nice to think about.”
With so many accomplishments during his career, Bishop said it all started prior to the game when he tied his shoes 5-10 times because if the shoes were too tight or too loose, it wouldn’t feel right and it would frustrate him. “I don’t know if this is a ritual, but it was something that seemed to happen before every game,” Bishop said.
With no plans of playing basketball at the next level, Bishop said he is going to focus on his education at the University of Missouri. He said he will miss the bonds you make in the locker room and the brotherhood you make with your teammates, around the school, and out in the community.
“Your accomplish things as a team and that brings people closer,” Bishop said. “This is something I will probably miss the most.”
As far as the biggest influence on him playing basketball, Bishop said he wouldn’t say that one person specifically had the biggest influence on him playing basketball. It was a collective effort, he said.
“My parents were always pushing me and would not let me settle for just being average” Bishop said. “They do not let me take the easy way out of things and I thank them a lot for that. After them, I have aunts, uncles, grandparents, coaches, and community members who have given me pointers, advice, and believed in me to accomplish team and personal goals.”
Although Bishop’s career as a basketball player is over, the best is yet to come for the New Franklin native.