Fouke junior Taylor Hardin is one reason the 2018-19 Fox Sports Texarkana Basketball All-Stars Teams won’t be forgotten soon.
Hardin was selected Girls Player of the Year after leading the Lady Panthers to the Arkansas 3A quarterfinals, and a 27-7 record (second best in school history). The 5-7 Hardin was Fouke’s leading scorer with 503 points, a 17.2 scoring average. She surpassed 1,000 career points, and has made more than 200 3-pointers in her short high school career.
Hardin won Fox Sports Texarkana’s most prestigious honor based on the statistics above, but it was later learned she accomplished these feats under the most difficult circumstances.
“It all started last August; Taylor was having some health issues, and we finally got a diagnosis that she had a blood disorder,” said Taylor’s mother, Sabrina Henderson. “Doctors started her on a steroid, but it was making her lose feeling in her feet. She could only go about three minutes on the court, because her feet were going numb. It was really hard on her at that time.”
Things apparently had got back to normal in late December, but then Taylor had a relapse when her blood numbers begin to drop again. Doctors and family agreed that four weeks of chemo treatment was the way to go.
Hardin’s relapse during tournaments
“It’s not a cancer; her last treatment was Feb. 20,” said Sabrina. “All of this was going on during the district and regional tournaments, and Taylor kept playing. Taylor has a mental toughness that has gotten her through all of this.”
Taylor was upbeat and excited about the upcoming state tournament. The Panthers were seeded high, and the entire community was thinking this could be the school’s first-ever state championship in girls basketball. But another devastating blow followed. The team was loading up for the trip to Osceola and the state tournament when Taylor was informed her 46-year-old father Clayton Hardin had died.
“Taylor was now wondering why things were happening, and we had no answers,” said Sabrina. “Coach (Mo) Williams told her God had a plan for her, which seemed the best answer.”
Taylor Hardin is one of Williams’ heroes, and has been since meeting the youngster.
“I’ve been head girls coach seven years now,” said Williams. “Every day I’d drive home from school, and almost every time I’d pass her house and Taylor would be in the driveway shooting and dribbling a basketball. It was this way since she was in the seventh grade.”
Challenges don’t scare Hardin
Once the Panthers’ coach stopped by the house during Thanksgiving break, challenging Taylor to make 2,000 shots during the holiday break.
“I remember it rained during that entire break, but Taylor’s step-dad (Frank Henderson) sat in the driveway in a raincoat, with an umbrella, and recorded all 2,000 shots,” said Willliams. “That’s how dedicated she’s been. If you tell her she can’t do something, she’ll prove you wrong.”
You’d have trouble finding someone who doesn’t hope Taylor proves doctors and opposing players wrong during her senior season.
“I can’t say I’m satisfied with the season, because with different circumstances things might have been different,” said Taylor. “We lost Crysta (Larry) early this season when she tore an ACL. Crysta was our senior point guard. Then my problems started. I’m going to lose some great teammates (Larry, Whitney McMurry, River Watkins, Laykin Smallwood and Alyssa Caudle) to graduation, but we also have some good young players coming up.
“I know winning the Fox Sports Texarkana Player of the Year means a lot to Taylor,” said Sabrina. “She’s an amazing kid, who really works hard. We’re all excited about what might happen next basketball season.”
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