4-ever Young: Taylor Young

 

By John Ring

 

       Was it really three years ago when Taylor Young, Rachel Pendry and Kelly Ricketts walked onto the sacred floor of John Thiel Gym as freshmen starting a game for the Galesburg Silver Streaks?

       Three freshmen starting along side two sophomores (Brenna Saline and Claire Anderson). It had never happened before.

       Not only that but Taylor Young was on her way to becoming the only four-year starting point guard in the history of the program.

       Consider the four who came before her--- Molly Watson, Jaque Howard, Shannon Williams and Jenna Bicego. All were a part of this amazing 13-year run that Galesburg has emerged as one of the best basketball programs in Illinois. And a lot of that has to do with continuity with the point guards.

       Each of these point guards had their own unique strengths. Watson was, well, Watson. She was one of the best of all time. Her senior year was one for the books.

Howard was a great three point shooter and a smart player. All she did was take three straight Silver Streak teams to the state tournament.

Williams was speedy and athletic. She grew into the job and the Streaks didn’t miss a beat.

Bicego had the long arms and could make the long touchdown pass. Bicego to Wright is like Montana to Rice. Her move from the post to the point guard after her sophomore season was seamless.

       Taylor Young? Of the five, she is the most physical. She thrives on contact, mixing it up and rebounding. In her fifth varsity start against Peoria High, Young was leveled on a bruising pick in the first quarter. Teammates pulled her up, Young shook here head, cleared the cobwebs and stayed in the game.

       Her style of play incites other teams fans, as they frequently yell at the referees.

       Through it all, Young has stayed the course. The 5’7” senior made one of the biggest shots in Silver Streak history when she nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie Morton in the Sectional Championship game. “A great clutch play,” said Streaks Coach Evan Massey. “That was one of the most dramatic plays I’ve ever seen at GHS.”

       “I still get goose bumps thinking about it,” said Young about her game tying basket. “It will be something I won’t ever forget. The noise was unbelievable. It was just awesome.”

       But there’s more to Taylor Young than just banging her 5’7” frame on the court. Young doesn’t get flustered. She didn’t as a freshman and she doesn’t now. In the best tradition of Silver Streak basketball, she plays hard and there isn’t an ounce of quit in her.

       Two weeks into her basketball career, Young made a steal with under thirty seconds to play against Rock Island Alleman that saved a game. It isn’t very often you see a freshman come up with a play like that against a quality opponent like the Pioneers.

       “When I look back at when I was a freshman, I just see someone who was smaller and didn’t have a lot of experience,” said Taylor. “The time has went by pretty quickly but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I made some great friends and have played along some pretty good teammates.”

       “To be the only point guard to have started all four years is great, especially when you consider some of the players before me. It’s really an honor.”

       According to Massey, Young has a new-found confidence in her outside shooting. That could be a part of her game called on now, with the graduation of Brenna Saline and Claire Anderson. Galesburg will have a pretty potent 1-2 punch inside with Ricketts and Pendry and it may come down to Young and freshman Jessica Howard to light it up from the outside.

       “She is easily one of the best athletes and one of the most competitive players that I have ever coached,” said Massey. “She had an absolutely great summer. I anticipate her being a much bigger scorer for us this season.”

       The Streaks coach has even used her versatility on several occasions. When Galesburg post players were hindered by foul trouble and injuries during a game last year, Young did her best Magic Johnson imitation and moved to the low post and scored a few baskets from that new position. With her tendency for contact on the court, the switch was second nature to her.

       And so it will be at some point—next February or March--- that Taylor Young’s four-year inheritance of a throne called the Point Guard position for the Silver Streaks will come to an end. That’s a term shared by several U.S. Presidents.

       Taylor isn’t sure about college yet. “I’m looking at several colleges like Illinois State but I’m not sure if I’ll play college basketball or not,” she said. But regardless of her decision, the impact she made on Galesburg basketball won’t go unnoticed. In her mind, she also has some unfinished business to attend to on the court and in the state tournament.

       So take some time for Taylor this year. Give her a hand. Pat her on the back. Tell her thanks.

       You’ve got all year to do it.