2015 All-Metro Girls Basketball: Moore named coach of the year for second straight year
When the final buzzer sounded in the 2015 MHSAA Class 5A State Championship Game, signaling Natchez High School had won back-to-back titles, Natchez head coach Alphaka Moore did not shed a tear.
Instead of crying like she did when she won her first state title in 2014, the buzzer elicited a different reaction from Moore.
“I was just like, ‘I’m glad this is over,’” said Moore, who was selected as the 2015 All-Metro Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
Coming back from double-digit deficits in the first half and in the fourth quarter to beat West Jones 74-66 on March 13 was a storybook ending for what’s felt like a dramatic run to repeating for Moore. Because most of her team returned from last year’s championship squad, Moore, along with her players, heard talks about repeating during the summer, through the season, in the postseason and before the state championship. And as the pressure built so did the adversity, as Natchez found itself down 24-6 in the second quarter of the 2015 championship encounter.
“All I could think was — ‘What is going on?’” said Moore who recorded a 24-1 record this season. “These balls were going into the goal and they would just rim out. The only thing I kept thinking was, ‘I know how I feel, and I’m slightly worried, but (the players) are the ones who are playing. If I show them I’m worrying, then they’ll worry.’ So I just stayed positive.”
As head coach, Moore steered the ship, but the unpredictable wave of West Jones’ runs had her team experiencing turbulence, down by 12 points in the fourth quarter before cutting it to eight. In a timeout, Moore simplified it for her Lady Bulldogs, trying to get them to focus and, most of all, keep battling.
“Basketball is a game of two things — time and scoring,” Moore said. “We can score the basketball, so as long as we managed that time properly, we could come back. I would say, ‘Hey guys, we’re only down by eight points. That’s four shots, four rebounds and getting down the floor.’ It’s just a point of managing everything.”
Moore’s team fed off of her words, as they mounted the comeback to win. But before Moore ever gave her team a pep talk, she had to overcome the situation herself. Had the pressure of repeating gotten to her? Is she going to accomplish the mission she said she would, or would Moore and her team succumb to the pressure and falter at the finish line?
“These are things I’m thinking because things obviously weren’t going our way,” Moore said. “So I was just like, ‘Okay, I’m going to handle business.’ And the girls were the same way.”
Winning two consecutive state championships — going 50-2 over the span of two years in the process — has yet to fully set in for Moore. Still to this day, Moore asks her fiancée, Delta Charter head basketball coach Dwayne Taylor, if he can believe the Lady Bulldogs accomplished it, as well. But not too long after winning her second championship, she started hearing talks of winning a third straight and even maybe winning a fourth after that. Programmed the way she is, Moore is always looking ahead, but she’s forcing herself to enjoy this state championship without letting talks of winning another impact her.
“Let’s just take it one year at a time,” Moore said.
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