BELDING — Taylor Johnson knows only one thing when it comes to winning. It takes work.
That’s what she told Belding’s girls basketball players when she was invited by coach Brad Wilson to speak to them after practice Wednesday.
“A lot of girls don’t work hard in high school,” Johnson said. “They just think it’s fun. They have to work hard.”
Johnson, a 2010 graduate of Belding, also brought up something to the girls that she found disturbing.
“It came to my attention that we (Belding) haven’t beat Greenville since my senior year,” she said. “I’m going to bring that up because we need to beat Greenville.”
Johnson also said she was fulfilling something she wished she could have had happen during her time in high school.
“I talked to them about school and how I wish I would have someone come back and talk to me about taking school seriously,” she said.
Johnson is playing her final year of basketball with the Chippewas, and the season started with a 105-61 mauling of Massachusetts. Johnson had eight points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field.
“I’m pretty confident of our season,” she said. “We have pretty much all of our team coming back except Brandi (Baker). Brandi was a big loss with a 40-minute game. Then Jess (Jessica Schroll) and Jalisa (Olive) with defense. But playing UMass I see some things we still have to work on, but overall I think we’re going to be fine.”
Johnson played on knees that won’t get better any time soon.
“They’re holding up,” she said. “I have rehab every day. It’s hard to play with them. I wear two braces on one knee.”
The key to repeating as MAC champs is simple to Johnson.
“We have to work hard,” she said. “We’re defending our title as of now. We have to work on our transition defense but everything else is looking solid. We just have to keep busting day in and day out. Coach G (Sue Guevara) is running us to keep us in shape.”
Not only that, but the Chippewas have a brutal nonconference schedule which continues Sunday against Kentucky, who is ranked seventh in the Associated Press Top 25 women’s college basketball poll.
“That’s what the non-conference schedule is for, is to get us ready to win the MAC championship,” Johnson noted. “We’re playing all these hard nonconference games like Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Xavier, Marquette. We’re playing all those to get us ready to win another MAC championship so that when we play in the MAC championship those teams won’t seem as bad.”
Johnson said her personal goal is one that won’t show up in the box score.
“The most charges I’ve taken in a game is four,” she said. “My goal is to take five in one game.”
But another goal is to stay healthy.
“My goal is to get through it (the season) healthy with my knees,” she said. “I just want to get through the season as best I can and do whatever is best for the team, that I can possibly do because with my knees right now it’s a struggle, but I want to get out healthy and at least finish the season.”
Johnson is hoping to at least score 111 points this season so she can have 1,000 for her career. She would be the 22nd player in CMU history to do so.