LIVINGSTON — Taylin Underwood hesitates for just a second — about the time it takes to release an accurate jumper — before answering an obvious question.
“Yes, I guess I’ve always been able to shoot,” Underwood said. “But I did go to a shooting coach when I was younger.”
Underwood, a 5-foot-7 junior at Livingston Parish-based Doyle High, added to her growing résumé as one of the Baton Rouge area’s top girls basketball scorers by tallying her 2,000th career point in a Monday showdown with St. Thomas Aquinas.
“She’ll run through a wall to win a ballgame,” Doyle coach Guy McDonald said. “She’s very competitive and hates to lose, and not in a bad way.
“What she does rubs off on the other kids. She’s always going as hard as she can. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a game or a simple shooting drill. You see some kids out there who aren’t like that.”
That competitive nature is one of the reasons why the 2,000 points plateau wasn’t an outright celebration for Underwood.
Doyle (15-4, 1-1 in District 8-2A) led by as much as 10 points, but lost to rival STA 63-50. Underwood needed 11 points to reach 2,000 and finished the game with 24.
Doyle is a program with a rich girls basketball tradition. Because the Tigers play in the Hammond area-based District 8-2A, some Baton Rouge fans aren’t as familiar with Underwood, who has started since she was an eighth-grader. As a sophomore, she averaged 23.5 points per game. Underwood has a 22.5 average this season.
The shooting coach Underwood mentioned is a Baton Rouge coach — The Dunham School’s boys coach Jonathan Pixley.
“The thing I like about our team is we’re young,” Underwood said. “We start two eighth-graders. We don’t have any seniors. I’m the only junior.
“We’re fast and can handle the ball. We’re working on rebounding and defense.”
Still, there’s nothing wrong with offense. Underwood scored 41 of her team’s 60 points in a 60-54 win over Merryville at the Episcopal Classic last month. However, that’s not the junior’s career high. She scored 48 in a win over 8-2A rival Pine last season.
“She (Underwood) thinks her range is to halfcourt,” McDonald said. “Shooters are like that. But I’d say she’s very comfortable and consistent shooting up to 20 feet from the basket.
“We try to get her up the floor so we can get the ball to her in space. That way, she can make a move off the dribble or shoot outside. If another player is open, she’ll pass it to them. But usually, our best option is her.”
Underwood carries a 4.0 grade-point average and hopes to play in college. Loyola-New Orleans is one of the schools interested so far.
Like McDonald, Underwood is focused on the 8-2A season and its possibilities like a statewide ranking and a deep playoff run.
“I just want us to win,” Underwood said.