Prep girls basketball: Skyline's Taylor key cog in new defense

Prep girls basketball • She averaged 8 points per game last season.
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Skyline plans to unveil a new defensive strategy this season, and junior guard Sydnee Taylor plays a prominent role in the scheme.

She has a message for any opponent who might consider the Eagles weaker than usual this season.

"Other teams might perceive us as down, but they have no idea what's going to be coming after them," Taylor said.

Taylor was just happy to be on the court as a sophomore. With Michelle Askew dominating in the post, Taylor locked into her role of playing defense, setting screens and scoring when the occasion called for it.

With a host of young players expected to man the post positions, first-year coach Lynette Schroeder plans to unleash a new brand of pressure defense at Skyline.

"We have a lot of up-and-comers that are very athletic," Schroeder said. "We're going to play fast-paced, in-your-face defense, and we want to get out in transition."

The 5-foot-11 Taylor, whose competitive fire comes from the constant backyard beatings she took from older brother Casey, will play a key role in the new defense.

"If I tried to drive, he would body me up and challenge me," Taylor said. "He never took it easy on me, and sometimes it wasn't much fun, but I think it made me a better player."

Taylor's mother, Kelli, noticed from a very early age that her youngest daughter was extremely coordinated. When Sydnee stopped playing soccer in the eighth grade, Kelli also noticed a dedication to basketball.

"My husband, David, is a physical therapist, and Sydnee really started asking him a lot of questions just before high school," Kelli said. "She stretches at night, goes to bed earlier than any other teenager I've ever raised and she's constantly working on strengthening her weaknesses."

Taylor posted solid numbers as a sophomore — 8 points per game, 46 assists and just under two steals per game.

"Sydnee is just a great all-around athlete," Schroeder said. "She can drive to the basket, score off the dribble and defensively she's quick and she's long."

Taylor grew 2 inches over the summer and honed her skills while playing for the AAU team Salt Lake Metro. Even with the added length, her ball-handling skills improved, and she'll use those skills when playing point or shooting guard for the Eagles.

"If I get the rebound, I'm taking it down the floor and getting our transition game going," she said.

That attitude and the leadership she's displayed are reasons she and fellow junior Mia Mortensen were voted captains for this season's squad.

"Just knowing my teammates have confidence in me makes me want to play that much harder for them," Taylor said. —

The numbers

Skyline junior guard Sydnee Taylor figures to be a key player for a young Skyline team.

First-year coach Lynette Schroeder and her husband, Brett, met while playing basketball for Southern Virginia. Schroeder gave birth to twin sons, Wesley and Easton, on Aug. 15.