That’s how many points Jackson senior Taylor Mikesell scored – all by herself – in the streaking Polar Bears girls basketball team’s 82-58 non-conference victory over Austintown Fitch last Saturday.
That’s right. It’s not a misprint, or a typo. Mikesell scored 60 points, and she sat out the last four minutes of the game after Jackson had secured the win. Who knows how many more points she might have had, had she played until the final buzzer?
In any event, Mikesell, who is headed to Maryland to play her college basketball, raised her career points total to 2,049 and became Stark County’s all-time leading scorer.
Many teams don’t score 60 points in a game. Some, if they’re struggling, don’t get that many points in two games.
Yet Mikesell got 60 in one game. She was a one-girl show – and then some.
Four days later, I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.
I’ve watched a lot – a whole lot – of high school basketball, on both the girls’ and boys’ side, over the years. I’ve never seen, in person, anyone score 60 points in a game, or even close to it.
I saw Upper Sandusky’s Jon Diebler, who went on to star at Ohio State, get 47 in a state tournament semifinal, and I saw Medina Highland’s Rob Wininger get that same total in a district tournament game. In both cases, it seemed like a ton of points. And it was.
But it wasn’t 60.
It wasn’t as if Mikesell scored those points against the proverbial Little Sisters of the Poor. With a 13-8 record, Fitch is a good team (Jackson improved to 17-4). But the Falcons were no match for her in any way, shape or form.
There are a lot of theories that coaches have when facing an opposing team with a prolific scorer. Some coaches will let that player score all she or he wants but try to limit the other players. Other coaches are bound and determined to stop that big scorer and will dare the other players to win the game.
Manchester’s Mike Phillips, who broke all of Jerry Lucas’s state scoring records with 2,573 points (it was later determined that Lucas did not have the record), averaged 35 points per game as a senior in 1974. In a district semifinal at Canton, West Branch, deciding not to let Big Mike take over the game, put four players – four! – on him. There was one in front of him, one behind him, one to his left side and one to his right side. He had no room whatsoever to maneuver. It was as if he was operating in a phone booth.
It worked – sort of, anyway. Phillips, getting into foul trouble and sitting out a good portion of the game, had just 12 points – with 30 rebounds. But Manchester still won 63-59 as his teammates picked up the slack.
That was a rare case of a quadruple-team defense on one player. There are all kinds of other unconventional, so-called "junk defenses" that are used -- double-team, triple-team, box-and-one, triangle-and-two, parallelogram-and-one, trapezoid-and-two, hexagon-and-one.
OK, I made up the last thee. But you get the picture. They are called junk defenses for a reason. In a desperate attempt to find something that works, coaches will throw all kinds of stuff up against a wall to see if anything sticks. And if it does, then that’s the defense they use.
"Stay with her wherever she goes," a coach will tell his players. "If she goes out into the hallway to get a drink of water, you get in line right behind her at the drinking fountain."
Huh? Say what?
"You heard what I said."
He’s only half-kidding.
Mikesell made six two-point baskets and converted six free throws. But the biggest portion of her points – 42 – came as she hit 14 three-pointers to set a state record. That was out of 17 attempts. So she missed only three three-pointers all game.
Even if there is no defense at all – even if a player is being guarded by air, so to speak - it’s hard to connect on 14-of-17 three-point shots. Those baskets are worth a point more than normal buckets because they’re taken from further out. We’re not talking about a lay-up here.
For a player to do it with defenders running at her, draped all over her and with their hands up in her face, screaming all kinds of crazy things at her to try to disrupt her concentration, is off the charts.
Jackson has a tremendous winning tradition with its boys basketball program.
Now Taylor Mikesell has put the girls program on the map as well.