BY CHAD DARE
CAYUGA, Ind. —
Whether it is handling a full-court press or responsibilities of being a student-athlete, North Vermillion’s Taylor Turchi has handled them with ease.
The senior guard led the Falcons to a Wabash River Conference championship and the IHSAA Class A Sectional Championship, this past season.
Additionally, Turchi, who also runs cross country and track for the Falcons, is carrying a 4.069 grade-point average, she is the salutatorian for the upcoming North Vermillion graudation and she is a member of the IHSAA student advisory committee.
So, it’s easy to see why Turchi hadn’t heard about being named honorable mention all-state this week to go along with being the 2013 Commercial-News Player of the Year.
“I really had no idea that I was getting either one of those honors,’’ she said. “It’s really an awesome feeling to be recognized as one of the best in the state and being the best in this area.’’
These honors are a fitting ending to her high school basketball career.
Turchi started as a freshman and this past year, she average 13.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game for the Falcons.
But, North Vermillion coach Terry Naylor said her impact went deeper than statistics.
“She is probably the hardest worker I’ve ever had,’’ he said. “She was very dedicated to her sport and she is probably the best ballhandler that I’ve had in eight years of coaching.
“If she wasn’t on the floor, we couldn’t run any offense. She is the one that started everything for us. If the ball wasn’t in her hands, everyone didn’t know what to do.’’
And while offense was an important part of her game, Naylor said it was Turchi’s improvement on the defensive end that made her an elite player in her junior and senior seasons.
This past season, Naylor challenged Turchi to guard the opponent’s best player.
“I knew we had a job to do on offense, but I had a challenge on defensive end,’’ she said. “It was like a game between coach and me.
“He would set a goal for me to holding my opponent under so many points and I would try to get it done.’’
One of her best defensive performances came in the Sectional Championship game as Turchi and the rest of her North Vermillion teammates held Riverton Parke’s Sara Dickey to just eight points.
The Falcons claimed the Sectional title with a 47-33 win over the Panthers. They would win one contest in the Regional before falling to Lafayette Central Catholic in the Regional Championship contest.
“Winning a sectional title was something that we always had as our goal at North Vermillion,’’ she said. “Getting it in my senior year was really special.’’
Turchi said her biggest area of improvement during her high school career was confidence.
“Coming in as a freshman, and starting, was a really big adjustment,’’ she said. “I was playing in front of bigger crowds and against players that were better than me.
“But, with hard work during the year and during the offseason, it made me more confident and it helped that my teammates and coaches had trust in me.’’
Turchi added that her increased confidence not only helped in athletics, but it also helped her in the classroom.
“Sometimes it was difficult being a three-sport athlete, but you just had to learn to manage your time,’’ she said. “Everyone on our team was committed to our grades. We just had to adjust and work through it.
“I think that is going to help me a great deal when I get to college.’’
Turchi plans on attending Rose Hulman in the fall and majoring in biomedical engineering.
“I want to help improve prosthetics and make people’s lives easier,’’ she said.
Naylor pointed out that Turchi has been a great leader for the Falcons.
“First off, she leads by example,’’ he said. “Her work ethic sets the tone on the team, but she is also a really positive influence on the players.’’
Some of those leadership skills have been developed in the IHSAA student advisory committee.
And through that process, Turchi has gotten the opportunity to be a student helper at IHSAA state tournaments including the state girls basketball tournament.
“It was always my dream to play in the state championship game,’’ she said. “But, if I couldn’t be playing in it, I was still able to be on the floor and it was an awesome experience. I got to see some of friends from AAU basketball play for the state title.
“Of course, I was wishing I could be playing.’’
Just another example of Turchi handling a potential difficult situation with ease.