When Sharday Taylor says she tries to not take basketball too seriously, there might be a self-defense mechanism at work.
"I don't like getting serious about basketball, because when I lose, I get very, very upset," said the Harlem High School senior, who has seen far too few victories during her four seasons as a starter for the Lady Bulldogs.
But try as she might, Taylor can't help herself when she hits the hardwood with Harlem - tipoff time means it's time to get serious.
She fights for rebounds and earns respect. She dribbles past opponents and dives for loose balls. She scores tough points in the paint and flings three-pointers without fear.
Taylor admits she can't do it all by herself, but that won't stop her from trying.
"She's the kind of person you want on your team. Everybody feeds off her energy," Harlem coach Melissa Chase says. "If she could, she'd play every position on the court. She's a point guard in a forward's body."
In fact, Taylor plays center for the Lady Dogs and has been stellar at her position, leading Harlem in scoring and rebounding this season.
"I can depend on her. When we need a rebound, or need something to happen, when she gets the ball in her hands, she does it," Chase said. "You can watch her play and see that she's got athletic ability in everything she does. She's the perfect example of an all-around athlete."
Taylor is a three-sport standout at Harlem. She excelled during three seasons in volleyball and has qualified for the state meet in track and field.
Still, Taylor doesn't play sports to pump up her ego.
"It keeps me in shape," she said. "If I didn't play sports I'd be so fat, because I love food - macaroni and cheese; mashed potatoes; fried chicken; pork chops; and Skittles is my favorite candy."
Though Taylor savors a tasty snack, she also keeps things cooking for the Lady Dogs.
"She's always having a good time," Chase said. "She keeps everything light and carefree, and that good attitude makes for a good atmosphere."
For Taylor, there's no point in dwelling on defeat. Her prep basketball career will soon come to a close, and that's enough to make Taylor get serious.
"It hasn't hit me yet," she said. "I'm going to miss it, but I'm just going to play to the best of my ability for the rest of the season."
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