The Taylor University women’s basketball team celebrated Senior Day at Odle Arena on Saturday, Feb. 12 with a 76-55 win over the Grace College Lancers.
A dominant second half saw the Trojans overcome a slow start to the game. Despite trailing 13-0 in the first four minutes of action, the Trojans fought back to go into halftime with just a four-point deficit.
“There was a lot of excitement surrounding senior day, which might be why we started out a little sloppy,” said senior Lauren James. “Once we settled in and started executing the details, we played much better.”
Taylor came out strong in the second half, taking their first lead of the game just four minutes in. The game went back and forth for the rest of the third quarter, with five lead changes before Taylor went on a 10-0 scoring run.
The Trojans secured a Senior Day victory by outscoring the Lancers by 25 points in the second half. James led the team in scoring, sinking seven 3-pointers and accumulating 24 total points.
Those 24 points were enough for James to reach the 1,000-point milestone across her whole Taylor basketball career, a feat she attributed to God’s hand.
“My basketball career is nothing but a testament of God's faithfulness,” James said. “That milestone is not an individual milestone by any means. It is an accumulation of years of hard work, perseverance and God's grace. I did not accomplish it alone — I would not be the player or person I am today without my family and their constant support. I would never get close to 1,000 without my teammates or coaches. It's just a credit to everyone who has been in my corner throughout my basketball career, and to reach it on senior day was very special.”
Other notable performances include sophComore Taylor Westgate with eight rebounds and 19 points, as well as senior Merideth Deckard leading the team with six assists.
While every game is important, this game carried some special meaning for the team. Taylor celebrated the careers of their three seniors Lauren James, Merideth Deckard and Kayla Kirtley.
“For me, the meaning and significance of senior day meant a lot,” said James. “To have my family and friends there to support and celebrate my time at Taylor was priceless. Even though it wasn't our last game or even our last home game, it was an incredibly special day to celebrate with my loved ones.”
Deckard echoed her teammate’s attitude towards the game.
“It was really special for me,” said Deckard. “This team has given me so many great memories, on and off the court. From missions trips to national tournaments, we’ve done so much together.”
As he celebrated another class of players, Coach Jody Martinez had a few things to say about this year’s graduates.
“This group of three seniors is very special to me and my wife (Sonya) and my family,” said Martinez. “Lauren James was recruited by the previous coach but started her freshman year the same time I started my first year here as the head coach. She has been with me all five years up to this point. Then, Kayla and Merideth were part of my first recruiting class for Taylor. The relationships we have formed will be memories of a lifetime.”
With the season coming to a close, the Trojans must now turn their attention to the Crossroads League tournament.
“Our goal is to win the conference tournament and earn a chance to play at nationals again,” said Deckard. “We want the underclassmen to be able to experience what it’s like to play at nationals, just like my class did when we first came in.”
The Trojans will play the first round of the tournament at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22.