Kobe Gilbert of Piscataquis Community High School scores during a January 2019 game in Milo. The senior on Tuesday became the school's fifth 1,000-point scorer. Credit: Piscataquis Observer / Piscataquis Observer

The list of 1,000-point scorers in Piscataquis of Guilford basketball history is short, but Kobe Gilbert was quite familiar with one of the names as he chased that same milestone on Feb. 23.

Gilbert largely watched from the Pirates’ bench in 2018 as older brother Bryce became the school’s all-time scoring leader with 1,474 career points, but he learned well from that freshman season on the varsity when he scored just 21 points in nine games.

Now a senior guard for coach Alden Gregory’s club, Kobe Gilbert joined his older brother in the 1,000-point club with his 32-point performance during a 52-48 loss to visiting Central High School of Corinth on Tuesday.

The 5-foot-10-inch guard became just the fifth Piscataquis basketball player — all boys — to reach the milestone. He joins his brother as well as Fred Blake (1,024 points, 1942-46), Ken Thomas (1,069 points, 1962-66), Mike Graf (1,049 points, 1980-83) and Buddy Leavitt (1,400 points, 1998-2001).

“[Kobe’s] probably the best one-on-one player I’ve ever coached — and I’ve coached his brother. He’s on the banner, too,” Gregory said.

Gilbert began Tuesday’s contest in front of a sparse, coronavirus-limited gathering that included his parents, Trey and Jaime Gilbert, and younger brother Gavyn. He needed 29 points to reach 1,000.

Despite entering the game shooting 34 percent from the 3-point arc, Gilbert struggled from long range against Central’s box-and-one defense. But as scorers do when one phase of the game is off, he turned to Plan B, which in his case was getting closer to the basket and scoring in traffic or after grabbing offensive rebounds.

The key to that success is one of the unsung elements of his game, according to his coach.

“What I see as his biggest strength is that he’s just strong,” Gregory said. “When he was younger he’d get to the basket but there was no chance he’d get an and-one [free throw] because he was going down when he got hit.

“Now you see kids coming down hard on him and hitting him, but he just pulls through and scores.”

Gilbert also is the Pirates’ leading rebounder, adding to his 12.4 boards per game with a game-high 15 against Central.

He credits all of the time he’s competed over the years with and against his older brother, who is playing at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, in shaping his basketball style.

“It’s just working hard outside of games and practices with my brother Bryce,” Kobe said. “He’s always pushing me to be the best that I can, talking a lot of trash.”

The younger Gilbert broke into the Piscataquis starting lineup as a sophomore and was the team’s defensive player of the year.

As a junior, his offense emerged as he improved his scoring average by more than 10 points per game, from 12.0 during the 2018-19 campaign to 22.9 ppg last winter.

“It was probably halfway through my junior season when I got going,” Gilbert said.

This winter he is among the state’s leading scorers, despite routinely facing defenses geared specifically toward stopping him. Central’s box-and-one featured one primary defender and two others with at least one eye on him.

“Just the one-on-one aspect of his game has gotten so much better,” Gregory said. “When he’s triple-teamed he can get by to the basket and get a decent shot, and he makes more than he misses.

“He also averages about five assists a game, but we miss a lot of the layups he throws to us. He would really be up to seven or eight assists a game if we finished. He’s a good passer and he’s willing to share the ball.”

Gilbert also is a talented soccer player and the 2020 Southern Maine Class D regional all-state honoree as selected by the Maine Soccer Coaches Association. He plans to focus on that sport at Bridgton Academy next fall with an eye toward eventually playing college soccer.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...