When Sydney Taylor gets in a groove, offense comes easily for the St. Anthony’s girls basketball team. Look to the third quarter of Tuesday night’s game for an example.
Taylor, a senior guard committed to UMass Amherst, either scored or assisted every basket as St. Anthony’s kept applying pressure to host Sacred Heart. Taylor scored 30 points — 17 in the second half — to lead the Friars to a 59-41 win over the Spartans in CHSAA.
Freshman Colleen McCullagh had 14 points, including three straight from the free-throw line to break a 7-0 run by the Spartans midway through the second quarter. While McCullagh’s support was appreciated, Taylor had this one covered.
“Syd’s a big-time player,” coach Hugh Flaherty said. “You have to get the ball in the hands of the best player. When things really start to happen, she’s penetrating to the basket. She knows that sometimes she’s unstoppable.”
After Sacred Heart’s Tathiana Pierre (13 points) made a straightaway three-pointer that cut the deficit to 31-22 with 4:35 left in the third quarter, Taylor took control. First, she drove and scored on an acrobatic layup. Then, she hit a stepback three-pointer.
On the next possession, she drove to the basket and delivered a no-look pass to Toni Kinard on the right wing, who knocked down the open three-pointer for a 39-22 lead.
Later in the quarter, Taylor inbounded the ball by dropping a pass just over the defense to Ashia Smith in motion, and Smith converted the lay-in for a 43-26 lead. Taylor had 10 points and two assists in the period.
“She’s very hard to guard,” Flaherty said of the 5-9 playmaker. “I’m trying to get her to go to the basket more. When she goes to the basket, nobody’s going to stop her because she’s so big and strong.”
Taylor said her favorite shot is the three-ball, although it hasn’t been falling in recent games. She made four treys against Sacred Heart (6-5), widely considered one of the better teams in the CHSAA’s “A” classification. St. Anthony’s (8-4) plays in “AA.”
“The last couple of games, I haven’t been playing so good, so I need to step it up,” Taylor said. “I’m the leader of the team, and I have to lead us.”
With Smith running the point and strong outside shooters in Kinard and Taylor’s sister, Synclair, the Friars are primed for a run at their fourth league title in a row.
“We’re a team to look out for, and we’re good,” Taylor said. “We’re good.”