If there’s a limit to Taylor Wilbur’s shooting range, it’s never been specifically defined. Guard the Maranacook Community High School senior at the 3-point arc and he just steps back a couple of feet, and steps back and steps back.
Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt recalls a game against Morse this season when Wilbur shot about 80 percent from the floor in the first half and finished with 38 points.
“He hit one from about 30 feet out,” Schmidt said. “His defender looked over at the bench and shrugged his shoulders at his coach as if to say âwhat can I do,'”
Wilbur had a lot of defenders shrugging their shoulders this season as he led the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class B division in points (25.5) and 3-pointers (3.8) a game. He put extra time into his game over the summer and fall in becoming one of the state’s deadliest scorers. It not only paid off for him but also for his team which reached the Western Maine Class C finals and finished at 16-6.
For his efforts, Wilbur has been selected Kennebec Journal Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Also considered were Gardiner’s Seth McFarland and Monmouth’s Marcques Houston.
Wilbur is coming off a fall season in which he played a key role in helping Maranacook win the Class C state soccer championship, but basketball has always been his first love and this season capped his high school athletic career.
“It was the best season I’ve had in high school in any sport,” said Wilbur who also runs track.
Wilbur has always been a scorer — he finished his career with 976 points — but his shot selection in the past was sometimes questionable.
“I definitely got better shots (this year),” the 6-foot-1 guard said. “I was more mature in what I was taking, I was ready for what was coming at me.”
Schmidt gave Wilbur the green light and noted that his shooting range helped the rest of the team because it forced opposing defenses away from the basket. It helped Wilbur, too, because when defenses over-extend he puts the ball on the floor and takes it to the rim. Schmidt noted Wilbur was adept at long throw-ins for the soccer team and used his strength to gradually increase his range.
“That strength allowed him to shoot from great distances without changing his form,” Schmidt said. “It was the same shot from 15 feet as it was from 28 feet.”
Schmidt said maturity played a key role in Wilbur’s progress.
“He learned how to control his emotions,” he said. “He wants to win so bad. A lot of it was beating himself up. This year he did a tremendous job of reigning those emotions in.”
A sign of Wilbur and the team’s maturity this season was the fact the Black Bears won the Western Maine Class C sportsmanship award.
“I kind of take pride in that,” Wilbur said.
Wilbur is playing AAU ball for Nokomis coach Carl Parker’s 17-U team this spring and hopes to catch the eye of college coaches. He’d like to play ball next year and study physical therapy.