High School Sports

Centralia’s Hodges Bailey a shooter on the court, a leader off of it

After missing most of last season with a foot injury, senior guard Hodges Bailey is averaging more than 28 points, and has helped Centralia to a 3-1 record. “I’m a workaholic. I like to get in the gym and put up shots,” he says.
After missing most of last season with a foot injury, senior guard Hodges Bailey is averaging more than 28 points, and has helped Centralia to a 3-1 record. “I’m a workaholic. I like to get in the gym and put up shots,” he says. sbloom@theolympian.com

The perimeter, the paint, the foul line. Yes, Hodges Bailey can shoot from there.

Really, Centralia High School’s thrilling guard, can shoot from anywhere.

“I really pride myself on being able to play all five positions,” said Bailey, a 6-foot-1 senior. “Just being everywhere, being able to do anything.

“I guess I would explain my game as a jack-of-all-trades, being able to do everything — drive, pass, shoot, post up, anything that can help the team win.”

He’s been a marvel to watch so far. Four games into the season, he’s averaging more than 28 points and has helped the Tigers to a 3-1 record.

He’s one of the better players that Black Hills coach Jeff Gallagher, who watched Centralia knock his own team out of the playoffs in the past two years, said he has seen in the area.

“He has that constant scoring threat, and you know you’re going to get a good night out of him basically every time he takes the floor,” Gallagher said.

However, before Bailey became one of the more prolific players in the Class 2A Evergreen Conference, he was a kid from Idaho.

As a freshman, he helped Capital High School (Boise) to a 26-0 season and a 5A state championship.

He also played the fiddle, and won the small fry division of the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho, when he was 8.

Several years later, his family moved to Washington to be closer to another musical family, the Voetbergs.

“They’re a musical band here,” Bailey said. “We played the fiddle with them growing up, and connected with their boys, so we wanted to play high school basketball with them.”

They up and moved, Bailey said, because they could.

He arrived in Centralia as a sophomore. Christian Peters, a friend and former teammate who now plays baseball at Portland, had no idea who Bailey was.

Neither did Centralia coach Ron Brown, now in his 56th year.

“I didn’t know anything about him, other than that I was told from family friends in Centralia he was a good player,” Brown said.

Both got glimpses of Bailey early on at open gyms. Brown noticed Bailey’s sincerity and love for the game. Peters noticed his tempo.

“You could tell he’d played a lot of basketball and knew what he was doing,” Peters said. “His presence on the court showed that he understood the game, and how to score, and how to help teammates.”

Bailey was a welcome addition. He was Centralia’s leading scorer as a sophomore, averaging 21 points per game, and a guiding presence on the court. He was projected to make a similar statement last season as a junior.

Then he got hurt.

Bailey fractured his foot before the season started, and played six games, averaging 22.3 points, before he was ruled out for the rest of the schedule.

“It was a stress fracture, so just overuse,” he said. “I shot a jump shot, and it just cracked.

“I’m a workaholic. I like to get in the gym and put up shots. I was going hard for a couple of months getting ready for the season, and it was just too much.”

Bailey still attended practice. He still supported the team at every game. But his presence on the court was missed.

“I think it was a big factor,” Peters said. “It was just hard because he was a good leader, and another good scoring threat.”

Centralia lost, 56-43, to Woodland in a loser-out, winner-to-state game last February in the Southwest District tournament.

Bailey said it took him 45 minutes to come out of the locker room after that.

“It was a hard game to watch, and really emotional watching and not being able to play,” Bailey said. “I wanted to be out there so bad.”

Teammate Jordan Thomas, who was projected to be a starter, was in the same boat. He also spent the majority of last season injured.

Both watched and waited. Bailey did his best to lead from the sideline, because it was what he could do. Thomas said Bailey makes an impact on players with low confidence, and boosts them up.

“I think he relishes the role,” Brown said. “He works so hard, and it’s so important to him. You don’t find many high school kids like that, who actually want to take that on the way he does.

“The fact that he works so hard at what he does sets him apart and makes him an example to others.”

And now that he’s back on the court, Bailey is boosting the Tigers in numbers. In his first four games back, he’s scored 41, 28, 18 and 28 points.

In Centralia’s first game against Steilacoom, 31 of Bailey’s points came on free throws — a school record. His 41 points total were one point short of another record.

“He’s really tough physically,” Thomas said. “His first couple of games, when he’s hitting the ground a lot, he gets right back up. It’s hard to guard him because he can shoot, and he can drive.”

He’s a grinder, that’s the best characterization, Thomas said.

Capital is the only team that’s had marginal success containing Bailey so far — if you can call 18 points containing.

“He’s got a lot of moxie to him, he really does,” Capital coach Brian Vandiver said. “He can take you to the rack, and he’s deceptively fast. You look at him, and he looks like just a guy. But on the basketball floor, he’s special.

“That’s part of what I think makes him effective is, at the end of the night, you’re like, ‘He had how many?’ 

That’s seems to be a common trend for Bailey — the ability to score and ignite the crowd.

“He’s definitely going to score a lot of points, and he’s going to be fun to watch for the fans,” Brown said.