HOWLAND - Taylor Williams wasn't about to be lost in the shadow of older sister Alexa.
Alexa was the recipient of the girls' Trumbull County Coaches Association Player of the Year award four years ago in her senior season with the Howland Tigers. Taylor took home the same honor Monday night at the TCCA's annual banquet at Leo's Ristorante.
"I'm excited. I can share something like this with my sister," Taylor said. "I'm happy to have hard work pay off and have such success the past four years with my team."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor Ed Puskas, center, presents the Trumbull County Coaches Association Basketball Players of the Year to Howland’s Taylor Williams, left, and Newton Falls’ Cody Dillon at Monday’s banquet in Howland.
Williams might be the best in a long line of talented players for Tigers coach John Diehl. A four-year starter, she set the school career scoring record with 1,512 points. This season she averaged 18.6 points, 12.6 rebounds and 7.1 blocked shots a game.
"She is our best player (ever), I think," said Diehl, who led the Tigers to a 22-2 record. "It really helped having her sister play ahead of her. You find that the siblings are better usually than the older ones. She started at a younger age. Alexa didn't start until the seventh grade. She was into soccer and softball. We talked her into playing in the seventh grade.
"Taylor started playing when she was in fourth grade. She's not quite as athletic as her sister, but a lot more skilled basketball-wise."
Taylor has unique skills that made Diehl's job much easier. She was able to use her 6-foot-3 stature to dominate inside, but she also had the ability to run the offense at times from the perimeter.
"That always amazed a lot of coaches," Diehl said. "We were playing Mount Lebanon and they were pressing us. They had our guards pretty well stymied. Taylor brought the ball down the court three or four times. That's when the other team said, 'Wow, what do we do now when their post player is dribbling down the floor?' That was a nice thing about her, too."
Taylor was the focal point of a senior-laden group that made it to the district final for the first time in their careers.
"All the seniors had that look in their eyes, and we all worked hard," Taylor said. "We kept a good mentality the whole year and kept close as a team and did a successful job."
The Tigers' tournament run came to an end against eventual state champion Twinsburg. Taylor fell to the floor with an ankle injury 15 seconds into the game. She played sparingly the rest of the first half. After trying to continue for a short time in the third quarter, Taylor was told to rest for the remainder of the game.
The rest of the team held up well until Twinsburg, led by first-team all state selection Malina Howard, took control. The score was tied at halftime.
"Honestly, there was no closure for me," Taylor said. "It was one of the biggest games, but injuries are a part of athletics. It's something you have to handle."
Taylor will continue her playing career at Princeton University. Her plan is to major in architecture.
"It's a challenge, but I love anything that can push me to my limits," Taylor said. "I want to go to a school that will bring out my potential. I'm excited to play there and study there."
Diehl usually has another talented inside player to step in, but there's no one of Taylor's skill level on the horizon.
"It's hard to replace 1,512 points over four years, but we'll do our best," Diehl said.