Taylor thrives in clutch for Woodlawn

Girls basketball: Brittney Taylor's intensity and decision-making have boosted the Warriors in big games.

February 15, 2005|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

In the final seconds of a close game, Woodlawn coach DeWayne Burroughs wants the ball in Brittney Taylor's hands.

Not only does the senior guard make the right decisions, but, at times, she seems able to will her team to win.

"Her desire and intensity put her above a lot of people," said Burroughs. "She can control a game with her emotions. When she decides she's ready to take over a game, she will."

In the past two state Class 4A semifinal games, the Warriors have taken improbable victories in the waning seconds thanks to Taylor's decisions.

Two years ago when Taylor was a sophomore, the Warriors slipped by Oxon Hill thanks to a short runner from Taylor with 3.1 seconds left. That shot - for a 51-50 Warriors lead - drew a timeout call from the Oxon Hill bench, but the Clippers had none left. Taylor hit one of the free throws on the technical. The Warriors went on to win, 54-50.

Last year, Damascus suffered a similar fate. After the Hornets threw the ball away under the Warriors basket in the final second of double overtime, Taylor passed in to Kim Carr, who was fouled on the shot and hit both free throws to win, 55-53.

"In basketball, it's a split-second decision," said Taylor.

"When I took that shot [against Oxon Hill], I don't know what was going through my mind except that I wanted to win so much. [Against Damascus], it was either give it to Kim or hit it off somebody's leg and try another play. I had so much confidence in Kim to make that shot or hit the free throws."

Carr said Taylor's intensity is contagious.

"It makes us want to play harder," the junior center said. "We want to give it our all, because she always gives it her all."

Taylor, 17, puts that complete effort into everything she does. Don't think it's limited to the basketball court.

"When I play video games with my little cousin, my eyes will be two inches from the screen and I'll be, `I'm going to beat you. I'm going to beat you,' " said Taylor. "I'm pretty much like that in everything."

On the court, she revels in making clutch plays.

"I want to be the player the team can depend on in the last five seconds. I want to be the go-to player," she said.

"She's one of those kids whose confidence and belief in herself transcends anything on the court. With her, you've always got a chance," said Western coach Donchez Graham, who has coached Taylor with the AAU Baltimore Cougars.

This season, her leadership, as well as 13.6 points and 10.8 assists per game, has a less-experienced team going after a third straight Baltimore County crown. The No. 8 Warriors (17-3, 10-0) can clinch a spot in Friday's title game with a win over Catonsville tomorrow night.

Taylor tries to use her intensity to her team's advantage.

"I try to make my emotions empower my team. When you are looked at as one of the leaders on the team, if you're emotional that means everyone else - the other four players on the court and even the bench - will respond. It brings more excitement to the game," said Taylor, who carries a 3.2 grade point average and is still deciding where she will play in college.

A starter in all 102 games of her Woodlawn career, the two-time All-Metro first-team pick always has been a defensive catalyst. She averages 8.8 steals as well as 12.4 points and 9.1 assists for her career.

Taylor holds Woodlawn career records for assists with 929 and steals with 906. Her 1,262 points stand second on the Warriors' all-time scoring list behind former teammate Tiara Wildy's 1,535 points.

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