Coming out of high school, Taylor Longo had most of the prerequisites to play at the next level.
A nice handle, the ability to shoot the ball and defensive quickness.
Everything a basketball player needs.
“I was a little small coming out of high school,” said Longo.
With no real offers forthcoming to a 5-7, 135-pound guard from Littleton, Colo., Longo attended Westmont College in California.
While in California, Longo changed.
“I had a little bit of a growth spurt,” said Longo, now a basketball-ready 6-1, 175 pounds.
“Better late than never.”
Still wanting to play, Longo contacted programs around the region. The opportunity to continue came from Bill Dreikosen, the head coach for Rocky Mountain College.
The versatile senior guard – he’s played both point and shooting guard for the Battlin’ Bears – recently surpassed 1,000 points for his career.
Longo reached the milestone with a career-high 26 against Carroll College on Jan. 21 in Helena. He stands at 1,048 after this past weekend.
“Coach always tells us individual accomplishments come from team success,” he said. “I’d rather get the wins than personal accolades.”
Longo is averaging 12.9 points a game this season, third best on the team. He leads the team in steals and is second for assists and third for 3-pointers.
Longo has scored in double figures in 15 games, with a run of three consecutive 20-point plus games – Hope International (25), Dine College (20) and Valley City State (22) – this season.
The departure of three players last year had Longo move into the point guard position. He averaged 13.8 points a game and led the team in assists and steals.
“Just do whatever coach needs,” Longo said of his approach. “For me, point guard is getting everybody the ball in the right spots. To keep everybody happy. You really have to get into the flow of the game. To see plays ahead before they happen.
“For the shooting guard, it’s a matter of getting to the right spot and shooting the ball when you’re open.”
He plays both during a game when needed.
“Sometimes you forget,” he said of his guard title during the game. “It’s, ‘Oh yeah, I have to go back and get the ball.’
“I like playing both. It’s just a matter of adjusting to the flow of the game.”
When the Rocky women’s team returned home after six straight road games, the Battlin’ Bears were staggering.
After earning a tough win at nationally-ranked Montana State-Northern on Jan. 13, Rocky dropped five straight games. The team also lost starting point guard Mikayla Jones to a knee injury. She is scheduled for surgery on Feb. 8.
Wes Keller shifted junior Hailee Farstveet to point guard last week and got big offensive production from freshman Markaela Francis in wins against the Skylights and University of Great Falls.
Farstveet responded with games of 21 and 20 points, while Francis added games of 14 and 13 in the paint. And senior Jayde LeFevre hit some big 3-pointers against MSU-Northern and some clutch free throws against UGF.
Rocky has four home games remaining. The Battlin’ Bears are one game out of fifth place and just two out of fourth.
“We talked about it,” said head coach Wes Keller last week. “We had been on the road for so long, now we have six home games and a chance to do something.
“This is important. We have to defend our home court.”