It’s been 28 years since he hoisted a state basketball championship trophy, so Terry Taylor Sr. knows how difficult they are to win.
Fourteen years after he won his first state title as a coach in Utah in 1971, Taylor Sr. guided fledgling Rangeview to the Class 3A boys state basketball championship in 1985. On Wednesday, the Aurora coaching legend was part of John Olander’s staff celebrating the 5A state title Eaglecrest won on March 16 with a 63-44 rout of Denver East in Boulder.
Taylor Sr. took the job coaching the freshman team this season at Eaglecrest — where his grandson Caleb O’Brien plays — and ended up part of a program that won its first-ever state hoops title. If you’re counting, that’s three basketball titles in a span of 42 years, which makes each one very precious.
“They don’t come along very often, that’s for sure,” Taylor Sr. said after Eaglecrest’s celebratory pep rally Wednesday.
“It was really fun to be a part of this; seeing how the kids came together and won a championship,” he added. “I’m sure there were more talented teams out there, but they didn’t play as well together as a team as these guys did. …It’s kindof like going back in time.”
Taylor Sr. had son Terry Taylor Jr. — a star point guard and winner of the prestigious Steinmark Award — on the roster in 1985 when the Raiders routed Loveland 71-45 at McNichols Arena to take the 3A title.
Taylor Sr. also coached the 1992-93 Rangeview team that lost to Chauncey Billups and George Washington in the 6A title game and spent 10 more seasons with the Raiders before he departed prior to the 2003-04 season after two decades.
While working with his grandson and the freshmen this season at Eaglecrest, Taylor Sr. got a front row seat with a team that finished second in the Centennial League standings and make a run through the 5A tournament that included wins over Arvada West and Rangeview, plus three straight No. 1 seeds: Regis Jesuit, Mountain Vista and Denver East.
Eaglecrest had some fortunate breaks in the postseason and one season-changing play: senior TreShawn Wilford’s strip and steal from Regis Jesuit’s Josh Perkins with the game in the balance in the Great 8 round that cemented a 64-57 victory that kept the Raptors alive.
“We were just talking about that key steal against Regis late in the game; who knows what happened if we didn’t get that?” Taylor Sr. said. “All it takes is one big play at the right time and you can play for a state championship.”
Taylor Sr. said he hasn’t decided if he will return to his position at Eaglecrest next season or if he will look to coach anywhere else or not at all.
“Kids have changed a lot in the last 20 years, but basketball is basketball,” he said. “If you can just get kids to love to play, that makes a big difference.”
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555