JACKSON TWP. By this point in her high school career, it’s difficult to imagine anyone in area high school basketball circles hasn’t heard of Taylor Mikesell.
The senior guard has more than a dozen school records to her name, has committed to play at the University of Maryland and has competed internationally with USA Basketball. Yet in a record-setting performance to close out 2017, the Jackson star found herself in an unusual position against an opponent who didn't seem to realized who she was - or at least what she was capable of.
Mikesell scored 50 points in a 86-27 win against Parma Padua, including 25 in a first quarter that befuddled both Mikesell and fifth-year head coach Anthony Butch.
"It was really fun and a unique atmosphere because there was no JV game and we were trying to do something to fire the crowd up," Mikesell said. "In the first quarter, they weren’t really guarding me, so I just kept shooting."
"I was taken aback that they were playing off her," Butch said. "She had 25 points in the quarter, which I’m pretty sure is a record that will never be broken."
After that fateful first period, Padua began to make some adjustments, but as many teams that have faced Jackson in recent seasons have learned, even shifting extra defensive focus onto Mikesell doesn’t guarantee defensive stops.
She kept on scoring, moving quickly toward Cathy Johnson’s single-game school scoring record of 48 points, set in 1973. Early in the third quarter, as Mikesell neared the record, she was unaware of the mark and Butch and his staff had to step in.
"She was close to the record, but she kept passing the ball so the coaches had to tell her to shoot it because she was really close to it," Butch said. "Taylor got the record, but you really have to give credit to the whole team because her teammates were making great passes and setting good screens."
Having entered the season with 14 school records already in her name, Mikesell has added to that tally this season. In the Padua game, she also broke her own school records for 3-pointers and steals in a game, notching 10 of each for a rare triple-double. As Butch noted after the game, doing all of that while not turning the ball over was even more impressive.
She said that while the record is a nice accomplishment, it’s less exciting than the Polar Bears’ recent win at the Canton Memorial Field House against perennial Federal League power Canton McKinley.
"I’d have to say beating McKinley at the Field House for the first time in about 20 years is the best thing from this season," Miksell said.
The month of December also featured a rare Northeast Ohio visit by Mikesell’s future team, the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps played a road game at the University of Akron to give senior guard Kristen Confroy (St. Vincent-St. Mary) a chance to play a game close to home.
Although Mikesell was unable to attend the game because Jackson played at the same time, she was able to hang out with the team when it had dinner at Confroy’s house the night before the game and attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game at Quicken Loans Arena with the team the night after the Akron game.
It was a chance to meet some of her future teammates and spend time with them and it ended up kicking off a record-setting, history-making month for Mikesell.
With another school record and a history-making road win to their credit, Butch, Mikesell and the rest of the Polar Bears are hoping that the remainder of the season brings more of the same. After all, if a 44-year-old school single-game scoring record can be broken, maybe the program’s 40-year league title drought can fall as well.
"Winning at the Field House for the first time in two decades and all of the records, we want to see more history take place this season," Butch said.
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