Upchurch, Moore named player, coach of the year

Published 12:43 am Saturday, April 12, 2008

NATCHEZ — Jasmine Upchurch improved her leadership abilities and helped lead her team to a drastically improved record, a division championship and a playoff berth.

Charles Moore led his team into unchartered territories, advancing to the State Tournament championship game for the first time in school history.

For those reasons and more, Ferriday center Upchurch and Franklin County coach Moore are the 2008 All-Metro Player and Coach of the Year.

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“This is a real honor,” Upchurch said. “I was very surprised when I found out. A lot of practice and hard work went into the season.”

Upchurch, a junior, averaged 18.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and three blocks per game in helping lead the Lady Trojans to a 29-6 record and a division championship.

The Lady Trojans advanced to the second round of the 2A state playoffs before they lost in double overtime to St. Thomas Aquinas.

However, while Upchurch’s scoring and rebounding were the key stats for the Lady Trojans, her leadership ability was the most important part of her game, said Ferriday head coach Lisa Abron.

“I expected her to be more of a leader this year and she was,” Abron said. “Last year she was one of our captains but didn’t step up. She really stepped up to the challenge this year, both on the court and off and the other girls really followed her lead.”

Abron said that leadership was the difference in the 2007 season that saw Ferriday finish with a losing record and the 2008 season which saw them win the division championship.

“This year it meant something for her to win,” Abron said. “She worked hard for each victory and it rubbed off on the other players. As her game improved, it inspired others to improve as well.”

Upchurch said she took the responsibility of being a team leader seriously this season because her teammates would follow her lead.

“My goals coming into the season were to score and rebound more and be more of a leader,” Upchurch said. “I accomplished them both. As a leader, my teammates are going to do what I do. I’ve got to set a good example so they can follow in my footsteps.”

While Upchurch’s leadership was leading the Lady Trojans to the division title, Franklin County coach Charles Moore’s coaching and teaching led his Lady Bulldogs to their first ever state championship game.

The Lady Bulldogs (26-11) only finished third place in their region in the regular season but rolled through the playoffs, winning the region tournament and finishing second in both the South State and State tournaments, falling to Southeast Lauderdale in the title game of each.

Franklin County had been to the South State Tournament the previous five years, but never made it to the State tourney until this season.

“It was building that attitude in the girls over the years that we’re supposed to win and be successful,” Moore said. “If you work hard enough, you can be successful. We beat good teams in the playoffs that on paper were probably better than us. But we found a way to win.”

Not only was the team talented, but Moore has fostered a program where the players enjoy being together all year round.

“We like doing things together,” Moore said. “We’re not sure where we’re going to end up, but we like to enjoy the trip. We’ll go bowling, have a Christmas party and in the summertime, they’ll go swimming. We try to do stuff as a family.”

Moore gave credit to his players for his coaching honor.

“Anytime you win an individual award in a team sport, it is because the players played well for you,” Moore said. “I’m just thankful for the girls here and am anxious to get started next year.”