(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
Now the entire state is taking notice.
Bidewell, 46, was recently inducted into the Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in Springfield.
"It was a great honor, but you've got to have a lot of things working for you and with you to get something like that," said Bidewell. "I've had the privilege of having some outstanding athletes as well as some great assistants. It's definitely not something you achieve on your own."
Bidewell has coached his entire career at Portageville, encompassing 24 years. When he came on board in 1983, he was an unknown commodity in his early 20s. Little did Bulldog fans know the hidden gem Portageville administrators had just hired.
Before Bidewell's arrival, Portageville had captured just one district title in the school's history, way back in 1935.
Although it he didn't win his first district until his sixth season, Bidewell's Bulldogs have been playoff regulars ever since.
He led the team to district championships in six consecutive years from 1989-1994. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
During that stretch, Portageville won four consecutive state championships from 1991-1994, a feat that had never been accomplished before or since in Class 2A, which existed from 1974-2002 before the state added a class.
Bidewell has attained a career mark of 483-150, which ranks eighth in career winning percentage (76.3) in state history, just ahead of fellow Hall of Famer and area coaching legend Lennies McFerren. Bidewell has won 20 or more games in 14 seasons, seven of which were 25 or more win years.
In both '91 and '93, Portageville had undefeated 31-0 seasons as Bidewell was named Class 2 Coach of the Year. Both teams were inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Bidewell also led the Bulldogs to two other final four appearances in 1997 and 1998, finishing fourth and third respectively. The Bulldogs have won 13 Bootheel Conference championships and 11 district titles during Bidewell's tenure.
Portageville has had just two losing seasons in his 24 years at the helm.
Such an impressive resume, which gets embellished with each passing year, made Bidewell an easy choice for the Hall of Fame.
"I feel honored with it -- but maybe a bit undeserving of it," said the always-
modest Bidewell. "You just go out and do your job and we've been very blessed and fortunate. The ball has kind of bounced our way I guess you could say.
"It's humbling though. Especially in the area with so many good coaches and so many good teams. You feel bad that there are others out there that get left out sometimes. We just made a run in the early '90s and that kind of carried over to the present."
Bidewell graduated from Poplar Bluff High School in 1978 where he competed in basketball, football and baseball.
He went on to Arkansas State University receiving his degree in 1982.
It didn't take him long to find a job.
It was a decision that Portageville, and Bidewell, who has made the small Bootheel town his home, would never regret.