Robertson's shooting exhibition the best I've ever seen

By Steve Sell
February 16, 2015
Kendall Shaw

I wasn’t there the night McPherson High's George Czaplinski dropped 44 points on Abilene on March 8, 1962, at what is now McPherson Middle School.

But I was in attendance when Steve Henson and Christian Ulsaker scored 39 points against Buhler and Wichita Heights, respectively. Henson's came in Buhler's old cracker box palace, while Ulsaker's occurred in a heads-up battle against Wichita Heights' Perry Ellis in one of the most classic McPherson Invitational finals of all time.

And I covered the 37 that Brad Underwood and Brian Henson scored, both against Hutchinson. As well as the other five times Underwood reached the 30-point mark. In fact of the 37 times a Bullpup has scored 30 points on the boys' side, I wrote about it 25 times.

I'm sure the night Ol' George put up his 44 against Abilene during the regionals — without the benefit of a 3-point line — he was on fire.

But I'd be willing to bet if Czaplinski had been in the Roundhouse this past Friday, he would have said that he didn't make the type of shots that Bullpup freshman Taylor Robertson did on her way to 41 points, the second-most in MHS history (for boys and girls).

Most amazing about her feat was that she accomplished it in just 19 minutes — that's right, 19. Had she stayed in a little longer, Czaplinski's 44 would have fallen in a big way. But the girls' record had been broken, the game was in hand and there was no use showing up Rose Hill — or taking a chance on Robertson getting hurt.

A tipoff that it might be her night came early when she scored nine points in the first 2 minutes. She finished the quarter with 18, making 6 of 6 floor shots — 4 of 4 from 3-point — and both free throws.

She was nearly as relentless in the second quarter. With her teammates recognizing she was in the zone and feeding her consistently, the hits just kept on coming. She finished the half 10 of 11 — 7 of 7 from 3 — and 6 of 6 from the line for 33 points.

She was one shy of Megan Spencer's 1994 school record going into intermission.

Robertson, who played 13 minutes in the half, returned to score eight points early in the third quarter to get to 41. She sat half the quarter and then took only one shot in the 2:52 she played in the fourth quarter.

The beauty of her performance was that her shots came within the framework of the offense. There was only one forced shot, that being her attempt in the fourth quarter when for the only time she didn't get her feet totally set.

The final line was 13 of 15 from the field — 9 of 10 from 3 — 6 of 6 at the line, six rebounds, five steals and three assists in the 19 minutes. Her nine 3s are an MHS overall record, beating Brian Henson's record of eight in 1990.

MHS coach Chris Strathman has brought along Robertson perfectly this year. He started her from Day One and she'll be there the rest of her career.

Strathman also has been careful not to be too effusive about her play, which has been at an All-State level. And given her humbleness, she probably doesn't mind. But even the longtime MHS coach couldn't help but join everyone else in amazement at what they witnessed. He was quick to point out after the game that her teammates did a great job of getting her the ball, as this was truly a team effort.

 Ten years from now, about 25,000 will say they were there, when in fact you can knock off a couple of zeroes, at least at the start. Those there know they saw something special and something they may never see again.

Robertson's success is no surprise to anyone. She's been in the public eye since her grade-school days for her free-throw prowess and amazing dribbling ability (she's been on You Tube), though she is more of an off-guard since MHS has a talented senior point guard in the efficient Madison Hoffman. 

She has put in countless hours shooting and dribbling and has an unmatched love for the game. I got to the Roundhouse early on Friday and after the C-game was over, she was out shooting well before game time. She's always working to improve and knows she still has a long way to go to get where she wants to be.

Robertson is unflappable and doesn't show a lot of emotion. Perhaps the most excited I saw her get this year was a game in which she blocked a shot. There was a crack of a smile and pump of the fist.

But let's have a reality check here. It's unfair at this time to compare her to Laurie Koehn and Jackie Stiles, a pair of Kansas legends. The Moundridge and Claflin stars, respectively, were a little bigger and stronger as freshmen and could create their own shots more easily than Robertson, who is still learning the process. In her second game of her career, she was held to just two points, as Andover senior All-Stater Jaylyn Agnew used her five-inch height, jumping ability and experience to deny Robertson the ball. She also endured a 3-of-13 night at Buhler as the Crusaders guarded her with veteran senior Alex Keller.

But it's pure joy to watch her shoot the basketball. It almost comes as a surprise when she does miss because her form is so perfect and the ball seldom hits the rim. She shoots better than 50 percent from the field and has only missed five free throws on the year — and Bullpup fans almost seem shocked when she does. After all, earlier this season she made 98 of 100 in practice.

Robertson is just one of the several reasons, though, I think this Bullpup team has slightly overachieved. MHS is 12-4, but has two very tough games left among its four. Yet, there were many who thought .500 would be good since the Bullpups lost four starters to graduation and none of their three seniors were starters a year ago.

But Strathman has taken those seniors and blended them with the underclassmen. The Bullpups play an exciting brand of basketball and the big concern before the season — how would they score? — has been alleviated.

Robertson still has approximately 80 games left to play in her Bullpup career. Let's just watch her develop at her own pace, keep our expectations in check and wait until her career is over to make comparisons.