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Taylor custom-fit for his role in Hubs' playoff drive

March 06, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

By DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

North Hagerstown point guard Clif Carey said teammate Eugene Taylor got exactly what he deserved by the end of this basketball season.

For the Hubs, it was exactly what they needed, too - Taylor making a difference exactly the way he thought he could.

Buried on the depth chart most of the season, Taylor transformed from invisible man into can't-take-your-eyes-off-him shooter and helped propel the Hubs to their first trip to Cole Field House in 25 years.

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"I kept working hard and had fun," said Taylor, a reserve guard for the 22-3 Hubs who play Wicomico in the Class 2A semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday.

"It finally all came together for me."

Twenty games into another standout season for North High, Taylor's name wouldn't have crossed the lips of even the most knowledgeable Hubs fan. The senior had scored just 22 points all year - 14 of them since Dec. 14.

The frustration of playing his final season with splinters in his hamstrings led to a meeting with coach Tim McNamee and a conference call with his friends on the team.

"(McNamee) said it to me and said it to my mom and dad, that if I really wanted to be playing, I had to show I wanted it," Taylor said. "I had to fight to get my spot back."

"I think that's what did it," Carey said. "He asked us what it would take to be a part of things. We said, 'You play defense, and you're going to play.'"

Defense may have returned him to a prominent role; his offense has kept him there.

"He didn't miss a shot in practice for like three weeks," McNamee said. "It didn't matter who guarded him."

It hasn't stopped since he got his chance. Taylor's hit 18 3-pointers in the team's last five games and scored 65 points in the same span.

His five 3s against FSK in the 2A West semifinals shook North out of its doldrums and sent it into the regional final against Middletown, where his 11 points in the middle two quarters kept the Hubs in the game until they rallied to win in overtime.

"I've finally felt relaxed out there," Taylor said. "I just take my time shooting and kept my balance. They've all told me, don't be anything you aren't out there, just do what you can.

"But I don't care about the amount of playing time now, as long as we keep on winning."

He better expect plenty of time. He's made sure he deserved it.

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