Taylor was driving alone when she flipped her car and suffered lacerations to her right hand that required surgery. She missed a month and a half of school to recover.
To see her athletic abandon on Tuesday night was to know Taylor has made a fearless recovery.
In the Rebels’ 51-39 home win over No. 9 Langley, the speedy guard helped No. 10 Fairfax stay undefeated by springing leaping traps, flying into passing lanes and diving for 50-50 balls while finishing with six points, five rebounds and five steals.
“She’s a force of nature for us, and we need her out on the floor,” Rebels Coach Pat Deegan said. “She’s contagious. She’s like the bird flu. When she starts moving like that, everybody starts moving. You saw that in the first quarter.”
At the beginning of the contest between the top two teams in the Virginia Conference 6 standings, Fairfax looked as if it would coast to victory. The Rebels (13-0, 5-0 Conference 6) scored the first seven points of the game before Saxons sophomore Jordyn Callaghan hit a floater to end a Langley scoring drought spanning more than five minutes.
Then Taylor lunged to poke the ball out from a Langley dribbler and finished at the other end to help Fairfax to 10 straight points, and the Rebels finished the first period with a 20-4 lead.
Langley senior Paige Galiani scored nine of her 15 points in the second quarter to help the Saxons chip away. Then the Rebels fell into their own offensive funk, scoring five points in the third quarter to fall into a tight contest.
Taylor, who entered the game as Fairfax’s leading scorer, could sense she had to contribute in other ways.
“Once I noticed my layups and shots weren’t going in, I was like, okay, let me try it on the defensive end,” she said.
After Langley (11-2, 4-1) cut the lead to five with 2 minutes 24 seconds remaining, Taylor set a trap to nab another steal and put senior Alex Wendling in position to draw a foul. Including five makes from Wendling, the Rebels hit seven of their final eight free throws.
Murphree texted Deegan asking to get into the gym right after school Tuesday, and the 200 extra shots she took before the game paid off. The junior scored a game-high 16 points, holding her flicked wrist high as she drilled 4 of 7 three-pointers.
“I really wanted to beat Langley this year,” Murphree said. “I wanted my shot to be on.”