Jaime LeBlanc would try to coax her young son away from the local basketball courts in Wareham with promises of a trip to the toy store. But Taylor Carlson only wanted to ball.
His love for the game, always fierce, only grew stronger when tragedy struck early in his high school career.
In June of his freshman year, Carlson’s good friend, Trey Miranda, lost a battle with brain cancer. The previous month, Carlson’s mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
“It hit me hard,” Carlson said of Miranda’s death.
“Then my mom started to go through the same thing. There was a lot going through my head. I didn’t want to tell anyone at first, I didn’t want sympathy. Basketball was the only thing I wanted to do. I had to fight through it and play.”
His focus heightened, Carlson put in extra hours honing his craft, and he soon earned the attention of Wareham varsity coach Steven Faniel. As a sophomore, he split time between JV and varsity, but his potential was such that Faniel would use Carlson on the scout team to represent the opposition’s best scorer.
Carlson recognizes that it helped him become the player he is today.
This season, Carlson is averaging 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. He’s drained 71 3-pointers at a 41 percent clip and set single-game program records with 46 points and 10 threes in a 91-57 win over Fairhaven Jan 15.
“Sometimes kids feel like they’ve been anointed,” Faniel said. “Taylor wasn’t necessarily the best player coming up, but he worked extremely hard and he’s certainly our best player now. This year, he got passed the torch, and he’s doing a magnificent job.”
A 6-foot-1-inch guard with long limbs, Carlson glides around the court, putting constant pressure on defenses with his ability to shoot off the dribble or drive to set up his teammates.
Each season, he has added facets to his game to become a more complete player. Goals — such as 1,000 career points — that he once thought were out of reach are now in sight.
Carlson has also become a more complete student, a key factor in the pursuit of his ultimate goal: A college scholarship.
Most importantly, his mother received a clean bill of health last January.
■ With a playoff berth on the line, Cardinal Spellman junior Craig Faria scored 56 points, including the 1,000th of his career, to lead the Cardinals past Archbishop Williams in a 79-77 triple-overtime thriller Thursday . . . Franklin junior Chris Edgehill broke the 1,000-point barrier in the first half of a 61-58 win over North Andover Monday for the Nusati Classic title . . . Foxborough snapped Randolph’s nine-game winning streak when senior Brandon Borde nailed a turnaround 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to give the Warriors a 70-67 victory Monday . . . Lynn Tech’s Robert Wallace scored his 1,000th point during a 58-49 loss at Pope John . . . Junior Marcus Montagnino hit a tough shot in the paint while getting fouled and drained the free throw to lead Gloucester in a 74-73 double-overtime win over Peabody Wednesday night.Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.