Natchez High head coach Moore explains the molding of championship contenders
Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014
NATCHEZ — The 2013-14 season proves the Natchez High School Lady Bulldogs are good, and the 26-2 record speaks for itself.
But there is a deeper concept to the Lady Bulldogs’ success. It’s what most coaches envy, and what head coach Alphaka Moore would say to anyone she is blessed to have.
Moore has a team filled with ambitious players who all dream of one thing: playing for the state title in the Mississippi Coliseum.
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Moore saw the sparkle in her team’s eyes after their season was cut short last year in the first round of the playoffs, and said she regrouped with her players soon after.
“I told them my goals for them, and they told me the goals they sought for themselves,” Moore said on the team’s agreement to fight for a state title. “We agreed it wasn’t going to be easy and were going to push for that point.”
Moore pushed them to their limits with preseason workouts that resembled that of a college team. The habits she instilled in them early have stuck.
Moore said the Lady Bulldogs are as willing to learn as she is to coach.
“They constantly want to work at things to get better,” Moore said. “Any coach can mold a team that wants to be molded. They buy into everything I’m trying to do.
“If they watch the game (on film) and see something happen, they ask why. They’re constantly learning and they understand that every game that there’s a different way to handle a team.”
The Lady Bulldogs’ awareness that the way one game is won, is not the way to win them all, Moore said, is what got them to the MHSAA 5A state championship.
When Natchez met South Jones High School in the South State title game, the team learned from its mistakes from the loss South Jones gave them in December.
Natchez had to box-and-one Kaylen Phillips, South Jones’ leading scorer, and Moore put senior Marquita Wallace on the job.
Moore and her Lady Bulldogs know it’s going to take more than stopping Phillips in the third and final meeting between Natchez and South Jones for the state championship Friday.
“South Jones is a smart team,” Moore said. “Though (Phillips) is their main player, they know how to work the rest of their players to give other options for themselves. Last time we focused on (Phillips), and this time we have to go back and see what the other players did well. We can’t allow them the same opportunities as last game.”
Though Moore respects South Jones’ roster depth, she acknowledges a big part of her team’s success this season is the same characteristic.
“Most teams only have one or two players to go through and their bench isn’t deep,” Moore said. “We don’t have that problem, and other coaches know they can’t put a lot of attention on one of our players, because I’ll put another player in and tell them what I want them to do and they do it.”
The last, and biggest, thing Moore said that has made the Lady Bulldogs the No. 1 team in class 5A, is their drive in high-pressure moments.
The South State title was won by four points, 34-30, while the first round of the state tournament against the defending state champions Canton High School was also won by four points, 64-60, in triple overtime in front of a high-intensity crowd.
Moore said those wins show her players’ resilience.
“It was hard for them to realize they have to change things up (at the last minute), but they pushed all the way through,” Moore said. “But they know if they stay humble, they can do anything. That’s this year, next year, in school and in life.”
The Lady Bulldogs will play South Jones in the MHSAA class 5A state championship at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.