A Texas recruit plays a huge role
BANGKOK, Thailand – The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals of the FIBA Under-19 Women’s Basketball World Cup, following a 79-61 victory over Germany on Wednesday.
Earlier in the week, the defending silver medalist Americans breezed through the group stage of the tournament, defeating Australia, Korea and Hungary all by double figures. Germany led 17-15 to end the first quarter, but the U.S. carried 25 turnovers from 19 steals to the finish line.
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“I thought we did a great job defensively,” U.S. coach Jeff Walz told High Post Hoops. “We just couldn’t convert the steals into points. If you turn someone over and you don’t convert it and finish, it’s not doing you any good. Then finally we settled down some and started making some shots.”
Celeste Taylor, with 11 points in her first three games, equaled Paige Bueckers for the team high of 13 points and also collected five rebounds and five steals. The UConn-bound Bueckers posted similar numbers of five steals and five assists, while future University at Buffalo Bull Jessika Schiffer scored 17 for Germany. Taylor, from Long Island Lutheran High School, will join the University of Texas this fall.
“I think I did really well,” Taylor told High Post Hoops. “I feel like I have it in me at all times, but most of the time, we have other scorers and people who do things. When the game comes down to other people and other players making an impact, I think that’s when I show up and do whatever I can do.”
The 5-foot-11 Taylor played 17 minutes in each of the group stage games, but her playing time swelled to 28 minutes against Germany.
“Celeste has been playing well,” Walz said. “Last game she got into foul trouble early, picked up two quick fouls, and today she played without fouling. I thought she did a great job on the defensive end of the floor, as well as rebounding the basketball. Celeste has really been focused and improving day after day, and I’m really excited for her.”
Taylor, a McDonald’s All-American, won the gold medal at the FIBA Under-17 World Cup in Belarus last year, as well as the FIBA Americas Under-16 championship in Argentina the year before.
“I had the chance and the opportunity and the privilege to be on my third USA team,” Taylor added, “Just the chance to get out and experience a new culture and a new country, and to experience new girls and new coaches, I think it’s been a wonderful experience for me, and I’m taking everything I can with me.”
This fall she joins a Texas program that finished 23-10 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed last season.
“I’m really excited,” Taylor said of her next step at Texas. “I committed really early, and I am so proud and so happy to be a part of Longhorn Nation. I’m just going to get after it with my teammates and be prepared for whatever comes at us and be prepared at all times.”
Taylor’s Under-19 World Cup experience continues on Friday against Canada, which defeated Argentina, 82-50, in its Round of 16 game on Wednesday.
“We’re going to have to get back in the gym here and go over them,” Walz said of Canada. “They’re a really disciplined team who will make you run your sets. They will make you defend at the half court, and we‘re going to have to try to get it at more of a pace that we like to play.”
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