Monday, December 30, 2013

Taylor Rooks of Gill St. Bernard's surpasses 2,000 career points

Taylor Rooks of Gill St. Bernard's scored her 2,000th career point on Sunday against St. John Vianney

Chris Ryan,, December 30, 2013

Gill St. Bernard’s senior Taylor Rooks scored her 2,000th career point on Sunday, adding another milestone to an already impressive resume.
The Stanford bound senior and reigning Star Ledger state player of the year entered Sunday’s game against St. John Vianney 16 points shy of the mark, and she reached it in the third quarter.
Like she had done countless times before, Rooks powered her way to the rim, fighting through a defender to convert the layup and draw the foul. Rooks went to the free throw line and sunk the shot to eclipse the 2,000-point mark.
“It’s great, I enjoyed the moment. Like you said, not many people get the opportunity to score 2,000 points, let alone 1,000 points,” Rooks said. “But it’s definitely nice to get past it, and it’s great in the moment."
Rooks’ achievement came at a crucial moment for Gill St. Bernard’s, as her 3-point play capped a 9-0 run that gave the team its biggest lead of the game at 38-31.
While Gill St. Bernard’s ultimately fell in overtime, 63-57, Rooks finished with a game-high 27 points, and her 11 points in the fourth quarter and overtime powered the Gill St. Bernard’s offense down the stretch.
With Rooks reaching another personal milestone, Gill St. Bernard’s coach Josuf Dema said she brings much more value than just her point totals.
“You almost become like a fan at times, you watch her drive the lane and make easy buckets, and usually at this level, you need to work for everything you have. And she works,” Dema said. “It’s impressive, she does so much that helps the team, and she really made a point this year to look for her teammates a little more."
Her career total now sits at 2,011 points, including 1,490 in two-plus seasons at Gill St. Bernard’s. Rooks will have the chance to break the school’s career scoring record of 1,864. Through five games this season, Rooks is averaging 24.0 points per game.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Natrona's Kaylee Johnson a star to see

Lew Freedman,, December 26, 2013

The three-second-long play that was its own highlight reel, the one that any basketball fan would desire to watch on film more than "Hoosiers" encompassed several of Kaylee Johnson's extraordinary hoop talents.
First the 6-foot-2 Natrona center blocked a Billings Senior player's shot. Then, with the same long and wiry arms that intimidate shorter opponents on defense, she batted the ball to herself. Then Johnson scooped up the loose ball, dribbled to the basket and threw in a lay-up.
Announcer Doris Burke would have needed throat surgery after reacting to the play. Candace Parker would have been jealous.
If Casper is off-Broadway for the finest girls high school basketball player in Wyoming, it would be wise to invest in tickets to see the show now. Once Johnson boards the plane for the West Coast where she has determined she will further her education at Stanford University next fall the only glimpses of her game in these parts will be if she returns for vacation and shoots around in the driveway.
Or, as Fillies coach Doug Diehl put it about her Wyoming fans watching Johnson shoot, dribble, rebound, or block shots again -- all of which she does with consummate smoothness -- "Except on TV."
Stanford, a perennial power coached by the legendary Tara Vanderveer, inked Johnson to a scholarship and that alone is a compliment. It will be possible to see Johnson play on television with Stanford, and although she is only a 7-0 record into her high school senior season, someday it also may be possible to watch her perform her magic on TV in the WNBA.
Johnson is very skilled at just about every aspect of the game, and she is friendly and polite. That's off the court. On it, she has an assassin's instinct, the you-can't-stop-me confidence that thrusts daggers into opponents' hearts. Johnson doesn't wish to offend her teammates by acting as a one-woman team, but she recognizes when it is appropriate to flip the switch and take over a game.
That moment arrived -- not specifically requested by Diehl -- but in Johnson's head, after the Fillies trailed Billings Senior 26-25 at halftime in Natrona's last game before the Christmas break. Johnson glanced at the scoreboard, noted that the usually well-balanced Fillies were not shooting well, and figuratively hoisted the team onto her slender, but firm shoulders.
Johnson wears her dark hair tied up in a bun and held in place by a thick, black headband. Over the eight minutes each of the third and fourth quarters Johnson mixed it up on the boards, used her long arms to discourage Broncs players from attempting shots in her vicinity, made short jumpers and dazzled with clever, slithering moves to the hoop for lay-ups. Johnson was the unruffled go-to-gal on offense and the goalie-like last line of protection on defense.
It was a pretty impressive stretch of exercise, but her hair never budged on the way to a 32-point scoring day.
Johnson said it was not until after 8th grade when basketball became her true sport of choice. Diehl played a role in her ditching volleyball by basically telling Johnson she could become a very special basketball player and get a free education out of it.
"I've been doing this a long time," said Diehl, who has coached kids since 1989. "I've never had anyone with the mental toughness and the work ethic she brings. She has a great motor that keeps her going. If you ever want to be impressed with the lady, you should see her in the weight room squatting 225 three times."
Diehl knows an all-state player when he sees one, but he considers Johnson to be better than the typical all-state star.
"She's in a different world," Diehl said. "I can have a great high school athlete, but she is an elite athlete."
One humorous aspect of Johnson's recruitment by Stanford is that it will prevent her from thinking she is one of a kind. That's because Stanford already has a Kailee Johnson on the squad. Really. The other Johnson, a 6-3 freshman, is from Portland, Oregon.
"What are the chances?" Casper's Johnson said with a laugh. "I thought, 'How are they going to do the jerseys?' It's one letter different."
Yes, Johnson joked, that's why Vanderveer recruited her, just because her name is Kaylee Johnson. Maybe Vanderveer was just being smart in concluding there is no such thing as too much Kaylee Johnson or too many Kal(i)ee Johnsons.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kaylee helps Natrona County take down visiting Sheridan

Kaylee Johnson puts a shot up under pressure by a Sheridan's player as Natrona County faced the Lady Broncs on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, at Natrona County High School in Casper, Wyo. The Fillies topped Sheridan 62-51.

Sisco Molino,, December 13, 2013

Natrona County struggled at times during its game against 4A Sheridan on Friday night -- and that's expected at the beginning of the season. But it was the second-half adjustments on defense that led the Fillies to a 62-51 victory.

Kaylee Johnson was in double figures with 13 points and flirted with a triple-double, tallying nine rebounds and eight blocks while also dishing out four assists.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Brittany McPhee is trying to win a state title at Mount Rainier before moving on to Stanford

Brittany McPhee, senior forward and two-time Gatorade state player of the year at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, has committed to play for Stanford next year.

Sandy Ringer,, December 10, 2013

Mount Rainier basketball star Brittany McPhee will take her game to Stanford next fall. But first, she’s hoping to help the Rams win a state title after two narrow semifinal losses.

Every step along the rain-soaked run is a reminder.
“You’re doing this for a reason,” she tells herself.“You’re doing this to get better.”
Because as good of a basketball player as Brittany McPhee is — and the 6-footer who will play at Stanford is widely considered the best in the state — she knows there is always room for improvement.
Running the extra miles, lifting the extra weights, shooting the extra shots — they’ll pay off for her and, she hopes, her Mount Rainier High School basketball team.
“She wants to be good at her craft, and she works diligently on it,” Rams coach Bob Bolam said.
And she wants that elusive state championship for the Rams after narrow semifinal losses the past two seasons.
“That’s fuel for the offseason,” McPhee, the school’s all-time leading scorer, said of those heartbreakers.
Not that McPhee needs much extra fuel.
“She’s very driven,” her father, Bryce, said.
That’s true on the basketball court and in the classroom, where she carries a 4.0 grade-point average.
And when she gets it, Brittany knows what to do with it, even when she’s double- or triple-teamed. She has averaged better than 20 points since her freshman year, along with 11-plus rebounds.
“Brittany is a scoring machine, and we look forward to having her here at Stanford,” Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said in announcing the incoming class of recruits. “She’s hard-nosed, runs the floor well and we’re really excited about the way she plays.”
McPhee looks forward to being challenged at Stanford, athletically and academically. 
While she often comes across as quiet and shy, Brittany is funny and giggly and a lot like other 17-year-olds, her father points out — other than the fact she doesn’t like chocolate.
She gave up other sports, and most of a promising modeling career, to concentrate on basketball. Her favorite part of the game, she says, is scoring. But she doesn’t care how many points she finishes with, as long as the team wins.
After all, that’s what all of those extra miles have been for.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Taylor Rooks commits to Stanford

Taylor Rooks is joined by her family while signing an official National Letter of Intent with Stanford University., November 21, 2013

Taylor Rooks ’14, the third Division I girls’ basketball recruit produced by GSB in just five years, signed an official National Letter of Intent with Stanford University on November 13.

Rooks considered several Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Princeton before verbally committing to Stanford on October 14. In her opinion, it was the best fit for a real student-athlete. “Stanford offers the best of both worlds,” said Rooks. “I feel that going there will give me the greatest opportunity to maximize my potential as a student and as an athlete.”

Since she arrived at Gill in 2011, both teachers and coaches have recognized Rooks for her strong work ethic and willingness to learn. “Taylor is the quintessential student-athlete,” said Director of Athletics David Pasquale. “She is incredibly talented on the court and equally as impressive off the court. We are very proud of the way she’s represented our school.”

Rooks’ many athletic achievements include the 2013 Gatorade® New Jersey Girls’ Basketball Player-of-the-Year award. In addition, has been named Somerset County Player-of-the-Year and has earned All-State recognition.

Also with a 4.2 GPA in the classroom, Rooks shared plans to maintain her hard-working mentality next year. “Whether by putting in extra hours of studying, or working after and before practice on my own, I will continue to make myself the best I can be,” she said.

As the 6-foot-1 senior graduates from the Knights, she remains confident that the team she has helped to build will continue growing. “Even without us, Gill still has a great team with great players, and I have no doubt in my mind that they are going to do well next year,” said Rooks.

Similarly, she has high hopes for herself and has already found her place among the Cardinal. “I’ve met all of my teammates," she said. "They’re very welcoming and I think I will fit in well.”