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Widmer strives for excellence on and off the court

As the tallest player on the Sandy High School basketball team, you would think that senior Paul Widmer would have been the most vocal and loudest player on the court at all times.

In fact, it is the complete opposite.

'Paul is real quiet and he just goes out and plays hard and leads by example,' Sandy head basketball coach Chris Meyers said recently after the team's final practice. 'He's not real vocal and is not going to yell at anyone or jump on someone's case, he just goes out and plays hard and tries to do his best for the team.'

During 2006-2007, Widmer admits that he was a little hesitant to battle inside and stayed away from contact. This season, he has taken on a more physical role and tried to get inside and battle.

Widmer, who lead Sandy in rebounding this season, improved immensely in just two years of starting for the Pioneers. Last season, Widmer was moved to varsity from junior varsity just before league play began.

'Last year, I was just kind of the fifth man on the court,' Widmer said. 'I just wasn't totally involved and decided I wanted more this year.'

Last season Meyers said he was moved to varsity out of need, but flourished and has excelled since.

'I moved him to varsity at the beginning of the (2006-2007) season and he has really blossomed as a force,' Meyers said. 'Paul has been our top defensive player and we normally match him up against our opponents big man.'

Widmer said in the two years on varsity, he has gotten more from starting than coming off the bench, but not for the reason you might expect.

'I enjoy starting because I get more butterflies and I like the butterflies,' Widmer said with a chuckle. 'When you come off the bench, you have time to sit there and they go away. I use the butterflies because nerves are a good thing on the court.'

Being the tallest player on the Pioneers, Widmer consistently surprises people with his shooting touch from outside.

'(Paul) has one of the best touches from outside and it makes him so much fun to watch play,' Sandy Athletic Director Courtney Murphy said. 'On the court, he is an absolute animal but in the hallways and classrooms he is a gentle giant.'

In four years at Sandy, Widmer has never had any incidents at school and Murphy said she wishes all students were more like him.

As his basketball career at Sandy High School has come to an end, Widmer is the type of player and students and athletes can take pride in.

'He is just the type of student that every teacher and administrator wants around, he never gets in any trouble,' Murphy said smiling in her office. 'He has never skated by and takes difficult classes that help dispel the myth of a 'dumb jock', which he is not.'

Widmer said he has been playing basketball as long as he could walk and it is the only sport he has played at Sandy.

'I love basketball because it is an aggressive team sport and I enjoy the sharing and all the fun times you can have with your teammates,' Widmer said recently.

Comparing this season to last, Sandy has won just eight games in two years, Widmer says that is not the reason he stayed with the sport.

'Compared to last year, this team is more dedicated to basketball than last season. No matter what has happened this year, we have never quit.'

Widmer said that his 3-pointer to help send the game against (then ranked No. 5) Central Catholic was a personal highlight to him.

'We played so hard that night and to take a highly ranked team to overtime showed that we were battling,' Widmer said. 'Winning more would have been great, but this team is so close, that is what I will miss most.'

Widmer has had many highlights this season, including 17 points in the Central Catholic game and 22 points in the Pioneers league victory over Hood River.

During his time at Sandy, Widmer said that while winning more would have been great, the best thing about playing was Sandy.

'The best part of playing here is the town,' Widmer said while smiling. 'It is just a great town and the people have lots of love for us players. No matter win or lose, they have really supported us 100 percent.'

As he prepares for life after high school, Widmer says he plans to attend Mount Hood Community College and play basketball, unless an offer comes his way.

'If someone calls and wants me to come play ball, I will go no matter where it might be at. I just really want to play more basketball, where ever that may be.'