Not even three injured fingers can stop Imire Taylor on the basketball court.
The Frankford High School shooting guard has been playing with three jammed fingers on his left hand since early December, but that hasn’t thwarted his skills on the hardwood.
Sure, shooting is tougher. Practicing can be painful.
But for Taylor, it’s worth playing through the pain.
“I’m trying to make the best of it. I shoot every day, so my hand feels funny when I shoot, but I try to get used to it, so in the game I’m ready,” explained Taylor, who jammed his pinky, pointer finger and thumb. “I’m trying to get it back to where it was … I ice it every night. It’s coming along OK.”
Despite playing through an injury for most of the season, Taylor has led his team in scoring thus far, averaging more than 20 points per game. The Pioneers are still adapting to their newfound home in the Public League A Division, struggling through a 2-8 record so far (6-11 overall).
Most recently, they lost to Communications Technology High School, 55-52, on Thursday, extending their losing streak to eight consecutive games.
While Communications Tech maintained a comfortable 10-point lead throughout the first three quarters, Frankford battled, bridging the gap to just two points throughout most of the fourth quarter. The Pioneers never gained the lead, though, and lost by three points.
“We need to play better defense. It was a tough loss,” said Taylor, who netted 17 points. “We played harder in the second half. The first half we came out sloppy and a bit slow. The second half, people wanted to take more shots.
“We were only down by two points in the second half. We could have come back and won it,” he continued. “We need to work on defense and getting those rebounds. We just have to keep playing hard.”
The Pioneers are battling through the highly competitive A Division this season, facing powerhouse foes like Imhotep Institute Charter and Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter. Frankford won its first two outings of the regular season — downing Prep Charter and Simon Gratz — but hasn’t been able to claim a victory since. They were scheduled to face Southern High School on Tuesday (the game was played after the Times went to press this week).
“Playing against the caliber of teams we’ve been playing is definitely making the team stronger,” said Frankford head coach Dave Huzzard. “The kids, especially for the kids coming back, it’s good. They can realize what kind of talent is out there. We want to win, especially after the season we had last year. I’m hoping it makes us strong.
“Right now, we need to beat Southern on Tuesday. We don’t want to finish in the bottom of our division,” Huzzard added. “After that, it’s the AAAA playoffs.
Last season, Frankford finished 20-6 in the Public League B Division, en route to a Class AAAA city championship title. The Pioneers’ success upgraded the squad to the A Division this year, and it’s home to some of the top teams in Pennsylvania.
“Were still playing the same ball, it’s just tougher,” said Taylor. “We have to make more plays. Last year the competition wasn’t as tough. We were able to get past everybody. This year, it made it tougher on us. I think it will help prepare us for the playoffs, because then we’ll probably be playing the same teams as last year, like (Samuel) Fels and (Martin Luther) King and all those. It makes us tougher as a team.”
Once the regular season is done, the Pioneers will move on to the Public League Class AAAA playoffs, facing teams that were familiar on their schedule last year — squads like local rivals George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Depending on Frankford’s performance, they’ll advance accordingly and, if successful, eventually compete against the A Division teams.
“I want to finish the season out hard, get to the playoffs and hopefully get some wins in the playoffs,” Taylor said of his expectations. “It’s tough. We were 20-6 last year. Now we’re 2-8, but we can still go to the playoffs and do good things. We just have to keep our hearts in it.”
Taylor, a senior who played for local teams like the Hunting Park Warriors and North Philly Aztecs before high school, wants to continue playing next year, while majoring in engineering and business.
“I love the competition. I like playing against other good players,” said Taylor, 18. “I grew up playing basketball. It’s something I love to do.
“I’ve had him for four years now,” added Huzzard, referring to Taylor. “Lately his hand is hurt. Since then, he’s had trouble getting going, but the kid can just flat-out score. That’s the bottom line. He has that will and that knack of getting to the basketball.” ••EndFragment