The standout athlete from Oregon City had a sensational senior year for Vanguard University

by: COURTESY VANGUARD UNIVERSITY - Former Oregon City High School standout Taylor Belmont, shown on the attack during a recent game playing for Vanguard University, has been honored as a NAIA Division I first-team All-American.Former Oregon City High School athletic and academic standout Taylor Belmont has made a name for herself at Vanguard University, a NAIA Division I Christian college in Costa Mesa, CA.

Belmont this past season earned NAIA women’s basketball first-team All-American honors, as she led the Lions to a 27-2 record and a No. 1-in-the-nation ranking for most of the 2013-14 season.

Belmont, who boasts a 3.8 cumulative GPA at Vanguard, also learned last week that she’s been selected to be commencement speaker at her graduation ceremonies in May. She’ll graduate with a master of arts degree in biological sciences.

Belmont played four years of basketball at Vanguard, stepping into the starting role at point guard this year. And Belmont had a huge senior year, averaging 15.2 points, 8.7 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 51.5 percent shooting from the field and 76 percent shooting from the free throw line.

“Our entire offense is pick-and-run,” said Belmont. “It’s a point guard’s dream. Someone screens for me and I take it to the rack, or I kick it out to our shooters. We’ve got great 3-point shooters....”

“We were ranked No. 1 in the country the whole season, but we got upset in the second round [of the national tournament],” Belmont said. “We lost to John Brown. It was devastating, embarrassing. They shot over 50 percent on 3-pointers. They couldn’t miss. Their coach called our coach the next day and said they play us 10 times, we win nine times. It was just their night.”

Belmont said of her All-American honor: “Honestly, I think it’s just icing on the cake to a really fun and memorable season. It’s something I can be really proud of. A lot of hard work has gone into this over the last four years.”

Belmont is going to be busy this summer.

“In early June I leave on a mission trip to Tanzania, Africa,” she said. “It’s with other athletes from my school. We’ll be sharing the gospel through sports missions. We’ll put on camps and teach P.E. in schools.”

After a couple of weeks in Tanzania, Belmont says she’s heading for Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas.

“I’ll be an assistant coach for their first women’s national [basketball] team, Belmont said. “And I’ll help start a youth program and teach youth there how to play basketball.”

Belmont plans to return home in mid-August. After that, things are up in the air.

“I may have the opportunity to play international basketball overseas,” she said. “Two agents have been talking to my coach, asking if I might be interested. It’s every athlete’s dream to keeping playing basketball after college. So I’m really excited, and I’ll do it if I get the opportunity....

“Before the international opportunity came up, I was looking into mission things, and possibly applying for the Peace Corps.... My ultimate goal is evangelistic — sharing the good work of Christ, and making a difference.... My dream has always been to be pretty much like [retired Oregon City girls basketball coach and educator] Brad Smith. “Building a program, like he did. And using basketball as an instrument to develop athletes into outstanding young women.”

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