As an eight-year-old on the baseball team, Taylor Pike could be seen scratching at second base, waiting to steal third. Now, as a senior point guard on the Southampton High School girls basketball team, she’s scoring baskets and stealing passes.
“She hasn’t changed,” said head coach Juni Wingfield, who’s followed Pike’s athletic journey for almost a decade. “And the thing about Taylor is she doesn’t just have an incredible ability to lead, she tells the girls consistently that there’s a difference between you can and you will. Will is something you have to learn to grab from way down inside once you know you can, and when you do that, you become more assertive than you are aggressive,” she added.
Pike used that assertiveness and the team’s zone defense to come up with a game-high 14 points and three steals in Southampton’s 43-30 win over Center Moriches January 25.
“She’s a great captain, a great coach on the floor, and she’s seeing it now,” Wingfield said. “The first half of the season everyone was running around with their check engine light on, and now, they’ve learned how to settle in, work their set plays, and realize that they’ll get the same number of shots, but better ones, if they just execute.”
Pike kicked off the scoring for the Mariners (7-8 overall, 5-7 in League VI) with a free throw, and finished the first half with 11 points. While four fouls kept her from playing the game she wanted to, forcing her to sit out most of the third quarter, she said she was proud of what her young teammates were able to accomplish without her on the court.
“I couldn’t have wished for a better team this year,” she said. “To come together so quickly is tremendous.”
Three of the captain’s five baskets came on long-range shots just inside the arc. Helping her get those opportunities was Caroline Oakley, who grabbed 10 rebounds and added five points.
“She’s been helping us out a lot,” Pike said of Oakley. “She’s a volleyball player, and can really get that height and has that reach.”
The Mariners took a 28-12 lead into the locker room. Wingfield said he was proud with the way his girls played good defense in the second half.
“We could press all day, but we were up 16 points,” he said. “Offense is never a constant. It’s here today, gone tomorrow, but we can always play good defense. It’s about going out there and knowing you’ve played the best that you know you can play. and play with good sportsmanship.”
Although there’s plenty of young, small girls on the team, Cristine Delgado, who is younger than the team’s two freshmen, because she skipped a grade, picked up the slack while Pike sat out. She drove the lane hard for one score, and came up with a spin move to beat out two defenders for another to help the Mariners maintain their convincing lead by the end of the third, 36-20.
“We worked on the give-and-go double screens, they were working for us,” Delgado said. “We’ve beat teams we lost to the first time around, and it’s exciting to see the improvement.”
Southampton may have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in four years. If the Mariners come up with a win over Hampton Bays (0-11) January 29 but lose to undefeated Pierson/Bridgehampton/Shelter Island January 31, they’ll need a February 2 win over Port Jefferson (8-3) to make it.
Digging her heels into the court this time, Pike said she was eager and excited.
“I’m ready,” she said. “We can do this. I want to finish my final season off strong.”