Quick, smart, free-flying, were only a few of the characteristics that were given by coaches and teammates when asked about junior guard Taylor Saltus.
As the Patriots prepare to face a taller Bishop Kearney team in Saturday’s Class C final four, they will need Saltus’ high intensity and swift play in order to defeat their opponent.
Coach Roger Long credited Saltus’ natural instincts as the reasoning for her knack to create big plays.
“In her ability to understand and her ability to pass, those are great instincts you can’t teach,” Long said.
“She is really confident when she has the ball,” junior Logan Snow said. “The way she attacks the basket, she is so fast.”
Saltus is the Patriots second leading scorer with 11.4 points per game, behind sophomore Meghan Strong. But not only is she one of AuSable Valley’s top offensive weapons, but like Strong, is one of the leaders on defense too, due to her ability to cause turnovers.
“I try to drive to the basket, to either shoot or pass,” Saltus said. “Defensively, I try to anticipate passes and look for my players to know what’s going on.”
One of Saltus’ best games came in a victory against Northern Adirondack, where she had a season-high 28 points and supplied numerous open-layup attempts for her team because of her tenacious defense.
“She played very strong during that game. They couldn’t stop her,” Strong said. “She led the defense well, got a lot of steals, and led a lot of fast-break opportunities for our team.”
For Saltus, her mind is on defense rather than the stat sheet. She knows when she plays hard on the defensive end the offense will come too, for either herself or for her teammates.
“I just want to win,” Saltus said. “I don’t care much about scoring; I just want to focus on playing well on defense.”
Long raved about Saltus’ game and her “burning desire” she has to play.
“Taylor is a kid that has a motor that doesn’t stop,” Long said. “Every play, every possession, she knows where the ball is going to be. Her IQ is outstanding.”
Long remembers a particular game against Northern Adirondack where Saltus was by herself for an open layup, which she missed. After a Northern Adirondack player picked up the rebound and started heading down the floor, Saltus sprinted down and eventually stole the ball back for her team.
“She is a free-flying kid,” Long said. “She has a great ability to make adjustments as the game goes on.”
Saltus seems ready for the Patriots final four matchup against Section V’s Bishop Kearney, and is prepared to adjust to its height and physical play.
“We definitely want to play more physical and harder defense,” Saltus said.