CEDAR GROVE, NJ - He averaged 13 points per game and two assists per game in three games last week.  Perhaps more importantly to his coach, Anthony Bilotta stepped up both in games and practices to help lead his team by example.  Bilotta is the Allstate Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week. The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley, Allstate Insurance Agent, 471 Pompton Ave., Cedar Grove. 

"Bilotta has matured tremendously within the last two weeks as a point guard for us. His commitment to understanding and controlling the offense has led to making his teammates better around him on the floor,” said Head Coach Thomas Jones.  “His biggest impact however has not come in the box scores--he has truly committed himself, as has our whole team, on the defensive end of the floor. Boxing out much larger players and mixing it up in the paint on the defensive end, while getting many deflections and causing turnovers both in transition and in the half court. These were some issues that we as a team had been struggling with up until the last week, and we have taken on responsibility to work on getting better in those areas.”

A junior, Bilotta leads the team in points with 149 so far this season and had a career high 21 points in a win against McNair earlier this month.  Currently at 3-12, it has no doubt been a challenging season for Bilotta and the Panthers, but he remains committed to working hard and taking it one game at a time.  

“Everyday we get into the gym and put the time in.  We’re a family, and we’re in it together and even though things may not be coming out the way we want, we work hard at practice, and we come to every game prepared and ready to win,” Bilotta said.  "I’m really happy with the amount of points I’ve been averaging, but I am always trying to find other guys. If I’m being face guarded I try to dump the ball -- to find my teammates.”

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Height seems to be consistently a struggle for the Panthers, and this year is no different, but rather than a negative, Bilotta feels the challenge just pushes them to work harder to overcome bigger teams.  

“Biggest challenge for the team is definitely our height.  We’re not a tall team, but that just means we have to push each other to fight and defend kids that are maybe bigger,” Bilotta explained.  “We have to stand our ground and keep battling back.” 

While the win column may not be large, Bilotta isn’t discouraged and is instead focused on developing and improving the team which boasts a young roster.  

“I just want to finish strong and keep competing.  Even though it’s not a winning season, I want us to keep competing and to keep practicing and improving,” Bilotta said.  “We’re a young team. We’ll all be back next year -- I’m not saying we’re passing on this year, but we really are building something for next year.”

The Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley Allstate, 471 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove. 

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