There is a strong argument to be made that Napoleon senior Taylor Strock is the greatest Lady Cats basketball player ever.
She is now the all-time leading scorer in program history and has led Napoleon to a 47-1 record the last two seasons, including a perfect 27-0 record a year ago before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the Lady Cats’ season at the state tournament.
“She wants to win,” said Napoleon girls basketball coach Corey Kreinbrink. “That’s her main goal. She’s been voted a captain since her sophomore year. She’s someone that will do whatever it takes to win. She’s not worried about points, they have just accumulated for awhile. She wants to play well because she knows if she plays well it will help us win basketball games. She’s been a team player 100% her whole career.”
A devout Christian, Strock, despite having several options, chose to follow her faith and signed a letter of intent to continue her education and basketball careers at Cedarville University, which is 25 miles west of Dayton and a private Baptist college.
“The people there, especially when you get on campus, it’s like you’re in a whole different universe,” said Strock. “You can see God in everyone you see there. I wanted to be surrounded by that every day.”
It is her faith in family and religion that has sustained Strock through everything, including when she was told she may never play basketball again after a devastating accident.
Strock was seriously injured during a grease fire the summer before she began eighth grade. The wounds were first thought to be severely damaging to her muscles.
“They were actually preparing me for skin grafting, but ended up not doing it because the next day they said it was a complete miracle because I didn’t have to,” said Strock. “The day it happened (the doctors) told my parents I would probably never play sports again because it kept driving into my muscle and would take my muscle away and mess up my nerves. The fact that I’m completely okay is a miracle, so I play like that ... that God has blessed me with the rest of these years playing.”
Her work ethic bares out her desire to take advantage of every opportunity she has on the basketball court.
During the summer, the Lady Cats have a 10,000 shot club, where the players are encouraged, on their own, to make 10,000 baskets. Strock made more than 36,000, breaking her own record from the year before.
“She’s somebody we have to force to take days off at times,” said Kreinbrink. “Last couple years, she comes in every day before school in September and October, she stays after every day and shoots more. The amount of dedication and perseverance throughout her career and her whole life in basketball can not be understated.”
All the hard work has paid off.
Strock, who has won the Most Valuable Player, all-tournament and Miss Hustle awards at the Northwest Signal Holiday Classic, was named third-team All-Ohio last year. She was the co-player of the year in the Northern Lakes League this season and was recently named the District 7 Player of the Year.
After scoring her 1,000th career point earlier this season, Strock became the Lady Cats’ all-time leading scorer during their NLL tournament championship win over Northview, breaking Amy Flory’s record of 1,216 points set back in 1992.
“It’s so hard to wrap my mind around,” said Strock, who had 1,226 career points at the end of the Lady Cats’ regular season. “When I was younger I wanted to score 1,000 points. This past summer Coach K told me, ‘You know you have the chance to beat the record?’ I had no idea what he was talking about. It never crossed my mind I could be the all-time leading scorer. It was never my ultimate goal, I just wanted to win games. It’s so awesome I broke it. Amy Flory held it so long and she’s an amazing player.”
“The impact she’s had on this entire program has been immeasurable for us,” said Kreinbrink. “I think it was important for her to get recognition for that and for her to take some time to appreciate it, even if it was for just five seconds. It was a big deal and I didn’t want the time and score of the game to impact or devalue that achievement.”
What really separates Strock from other great players is her ability to play at a high level on both ends of the floor. Strock leads the team in scoring with a 17.1 points per game average, but she is also pacing Napoleon in steals with 63.
“Her impact defensively is just as valuable for us as she is offensively,” said Kreinbrink. “There are nights when she isn’t shooting well or missed some shots or had some turnovers, but defensively she brings it every night. Her impact for us, on that end of the floor, is just as strong as her scoring points.”
The daughter of Cinda and Tory Strock is also successful off the court, with a 4.0 grade point average and a member of both student council and National Honor Society.
Kreinbrink said it is hard to measure what Strock has meant to the Lady Cats’ program.
“She is somebody that took the program forward, one of the people that accelerated our growth,” said Kreinbrink when asked about Strock’s legacy. “We went from a pretty good team year in and year out to one of the more competitive teams in Division II in the state. To be able to do that speaks volumes. It’s hard to grasp that. To do that and the way she’s done it, she’s such a caring kid, she cares about others, and she wants to do things right and for people to feel accepted. That means as much to me as any of the stats or accolades on the court.”