Taylor brothers perform magic at BIC
Winning a state championship is a great accomplishment, and one not easily attained on any level. Bringing home back-to-back titles is even rarer, but duplicating the feat twice at the same school and by brothers nonetheless, becomes magical, if not miraculous. For Buffalo Island Central, it became a reality.
Gaylon Taylor and younger brother Bill pulled off the unthinkable, starting with Gaylon's back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993. Bill brought the Mustangs consecutive championships in 2005-2006.
"It's so ironic that Bill and I won back to back titles at the same school," said Gaylon Taylor. "The fact that we are brothers and did it at different times has never been done before or since."
"I never dreamed we could duplicate what Gaylon's teams had done,"
said Bill Taylor. "I did think we could compete for a state championship when I first took the job, but winning back- to-back the way Gaylon did didn't enter my mind. Chances of it happening were pretty remote," said the younger Taylor.
"They were both under similar circumstances," continued Bill Taylor.
"That's what was so weird about it. It's really strange how it all played out. I can't imagine that it's ever happened anywhere else,"
Gaylon's first team was his most talented, and ironically, so was Bill's.
Each brother's second title came somewhat surprisingly, as neither team was favored entering the state tournament, despite being the defending
champions. "We were fortunate to pull out a win against Junction City," said Bill Taylor. "We were trailing at the half, but we were able to rally for the win. We got a great game off the bench from Jordan Phillips in the finals. Things just seemed to break right for us. We also got a huge break when Earle got upset in the early rounds of the state tournament. They had beaten us soundly the last two times we had played," added Taylor.
Gaylon's second team may have been even more fortunate. The Mustangs had dropped three straight games to Bay during the regular season, but during the regionals, the Yellowjackets were knocked off by Manila, clearing a path for BIC to repeat as state champs. "We just did not match up with Bay at all," said Gaylon Taylor. "But Manila did, and they did us a huge favor. When Bay lost, we knew we had a good chance to repeat."
"Both of us had things line up just right in our second year," said Bill Taylor. "It was a special time for BIC to win four state championships in such a short time. Both teams have had great players. We were both very blessed."
The Taylors have followed each other's careers closely throughout the years.
"We both attended each other's state title games," said Bill Taylor. "Gaylon even sat with me and gave me advice, which helped me win my first state championship."
Both coaches suffered personal loss during their championship runs.
In November of 1993, the Taylors lost both their parents in the same week.
Ironically, in November of 2006, the Taylors lost their older brother, Larry. "It's so eerie that we lost loved ones so close to us in the same month of our second championship seasons. It was a very difficult time for both of us. After we lost our parents, Larry had become more of a parent instead of our brother. It was like losing a parent all over again," said Bill Taylor.
"I had to take a week off when we lost Mom and Dad," said Gaylon Taylor. "It was very tough. But my team helped me through it. I think we all pulled together during that time."
"Mom and Dad got to see my first championship at Delta and Gaylon's first at BIC, but I also think they saw our last ones too, even though they were gone," said Bill Taylor. "I just wish they had been here for Brooks' championships. My mom would have been so proud of him. She would have loved his toughness and competitiveness because that's the way she was. She always told me and my brothers when we played good and when we played bad. There were no holds barred," added Taylor.
If the story line to these championships wasn't intriguing enough, Gaylon's star player, Chip Layne, later married into the Taylor family, while Bill coached his son Brooks, who broke BIC's career scoring mark set 13 years earlier by Layne.
With all the similarities between the brothers' championship seasons, one wonders who would win if each one's best faced off against the other.
"Gaylon and I don't talk ball much," said Bill Taylor. "But I think my 2005 team was the best team ever to have played at BIC. We would have won, because we were so good offensively. Gaylon's teams won by getting out in front and hitting free throws late. We could make our foul shots too, but we had a deeper starting five than his. Gaylon's teams were very, very good, but we would have found a way to have beaten them. That's what I think, but Gaylon probably thinks he would have won because of his coaching ability," laughed Bill Taylor.
"Bill and I really don't talk about it a lot, and we both appreciate the other's success," said Gaylon Taylor. "We coach different styles. I hate to say we would beat him because that's my brother and nephew, but I would put my team up against his, that's for sure."
Asked who would win between the two teams, Chip Layne leaned back and pointed at himself. "Obviously I would say we would," grinned Layne.
Brandon Ballard, who teamed with Brooks Taylor to form the heart and soul of Bill's 2005 championship team, said he doesn't really have an answer on who would win. "Chip's teams winning back-to-back titles gave us a goal to shoot for," said Ballard. "They set the standard. But if you pressed me, I'd have to say the edge would go to us."
Brooks Taylor had his own unique take on the question of who would win. "I hate to say this because it's my Uncle Gaylon, but anybody knows who would win that game. Both teams were animals, but we were the beast. Our four year record of 146-13 says it all," boasted the younger Taylor.
Who better to pick the winner of such a mythical game, than the coach of BIC's archrival, Buster Campbell? "Both teams had great coaching and both were always well prepared," said Campbell. "They both featured great players and they never seemed to have a bad game. Because we were such fierce rivals, we knew we would always get their best shot. But if you gave me a million dollars to bet on the outcome of a game between Gaylon and Bill's best teams, before the game started I would have to choose Bill's 2005 team, which had Brooks and Brandon. I think they were a little more talented. But if there were 3:00 left in the game and it was tied, I would shift my bet to Chip. He was just too clutch at the end of a game," concluded Campbell.