KANSAS CITY -- Though about 1,300 miles separated the two, Carroll College senior guard Zach Taylor and Capital High girls basketball coach Bill Pilgeram joined each other’s company on Friday.
The Duvall, Washington, native hit a 3-pointer in the second half against Southwestern Assemblies of God University, which the Saints defeated in overtime in the second round of the NAIA national tournament, and with that shot crossed the 2,000 point threshold, joining Pilgeram as the only Saints in Carroll College history to do so.
“Unbelievable career. Unbelievable competitor,” Saints coach Carson Cunningham said. “They ran kind of a junk defense at him and he got other guys in space. Other guys stepped up huge. He waited his turn and then really started to assert himself. It’s just an example of the type of player he is. He’s got a great feel. He’s very unselfish and loves to compete.”
Taylor stands at 2,010 points. Pilgeram ended his career with 2,515.
“I don’t think I’m gonna catch him,” Taylor joked.
The guard had no idea he’d crossed the mark, though teammates jostled him after the game and he saw posts on social media about the feat.
“It’s special,” Taylor said. “A lot of credit has to go to coach and my teammates. Coach putting me in the spot and getting us set up on offense and the play calls help a lot, and then the guys. Like today, they stepped up. That shows you can’t focus on one or two guys. If you do that they’re going to step up and hurt you. It’s a team effort and it’s kind of a team achievement.”
Pilgeram put the final mark on his accomplishment in 1992 after a career that included three Frontier Conference MVPs, an All-American nod and a career scoring mark of 24.9 points per game. Pilgeram finished his career with a 54-percent clip from beyond the 3-point line. Since Pilgeram’s prime, only one other Saint had come close to crossing the threshold. Missoulian Andy Garland, a four-time All-American, finished his career with 1,985.
Taylor passed him for second place in the Saints' record books in Wednesday's NAIA Tournament opener with a 21-point game.
“I’m proud of him,” Pilgeram said of Taylor. “He’s been a great player. He’s had a great career. You have to produce. You have to do a lot for four straight years. It’s been a lot of fun to watch him play for four years.”
What exemplifies Taylor is tricky to describe, but Pilgeram thinks his well-rounded game and level of coordination and control really stood out.
“He’s in control,” Pilgeram said. “Good things happens when ball is in his hands. He has knack when he needs to push the tempo. He knows when other people need the ball.”
And Pilgeram knows. He’s kept close tabs on the program since he departed it in the '90s.
“I’ve seen a lot of great point guards,” Pilgeram said. “Zach, what separates him is his ability to score and distribute. He can do both. You don’t see both of those very often. You see the great floor general. You don’t see a lot of guys that can do both. Add in his ability to rebound the ball. You don’t see a point guard have his skills.”
Taylor has a career average of 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He has a career high of 35 points in a game.
On Saturday, as the Saints march into the quarterfinals, he has a chance to improve all those numbers.