For the time being, Taylor Rolfs is coming off the bench.
Even after being in the starting rotation for the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team in its first 12 contests, she really wouldn’t want it any other way.
The sophomore from Claflin and Central Plains High School is just pleased to be able to contribute, and do it in a big way for the Tigers their last few times out.
Being the sixth or seventh player in the rotation, Rolfs put up 10 and 14 points, respectively, the last two outings, part of a four-game winning streak FHSU takes into Wednesday’s 5:30 p.m. tip with rival Emporia State University at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“Feel a little bit more confident,” said Rolfs, the Tigers’ fourth-leading scorer at 9.7 points per night. “I kind of lacked a little bit a few games ago, but it’s slowing coming back.
“Really just trying to focus on defense right now, and I think that’s helping me a lot.”
Coming off an ankle injury that kind of slowed her progress through a sophomore season, Rolfs’ play the last few games just illustrates the depth Tiger head coach Tony Hobson hoped his team eventually would have. A mixture of Rolfs and sophomore Belle Barbieri off the bench, among others who could make a case for the starting rotation, really gives Hobson a feel like his starters go seven or eight deep.
“That’s important when you have people like her and Belle, coming off he bench and playing like they do,” Hobson said.
Rolfs is a perfect example. The sophomore — as a starter — had a few games in the early going where she was the Tigers’ biggest threat. Case in point was the first meeting between the Tigers and Hornets. FHSU, led by a 3-point shooting barrage by Rolfs, came back in the fourth quarter and eventually fell by three on the road at White Auditorium.
Rolfs hit five 3s and seemingly had no range limit, and poured in a season-best 17 points.
After the injury, she’s slowly getting back to that effectiveness.
“(I’m) a lot faster now,” she said. “I felt really slow coming off it. Still a little pain every once in a while, but nothing I can’t play through.”
The Tigers’ scoring depth was further illustrated during a road stretch in Missouri this past weekend. In the 87-73 victory at Lindenwood, the Tigers’ highest scoring game in conference play this season, the Tigers put four in double figures. And none of them were leading scorer, junior Tatyana Legette. Sophomore transfer Lanie Page hit two 3s, and scored a game and career-high 21 points. Junior point guard Carly Heim had her second straight big-time outing with 18 points, and senior Emma Stroyan had 10 points, in addition to Rolfs’ 14.
“Offensively, we’re finding our stride,” Hobson said. We’re as good offensively as we have been. We had some different people kind of carry us.”
That will be key for FHSU during the final eight-game stretch as it seeks a top-four conference finish and first-round bye in the postseason conference tourney.
Wednesday also presents an opportunity to get one back against a team that sits just ahead of FHSU in the conference standings.
“It’s a huge week for us,” Rolfs said, adding in Saturday’s 2 p.m. tip against Washburn University at GMC. “Those are two (road games) we really could have won, and and should have.
“Really hoping to get them at home.”