Moore happy to be back at Natchez High

Published 8:52 pm Wednesday, December 23, 2020

NATCHEZ — Alphaka Moore made her return to Natchez High School as once again the girls’ basketball coach as well as the school’s new athletic director in June 2019 after three years in her hometown of Laurel coaching at Laurel High School.

“I’m really happy to be back,” Moore said recently. “I really felt like I didn’t leave. I like the position I’m in helping other coaches and bringing some new ideas.”

When the 2019-2020 season, her first one back as head coach of Natchez High’s varsity girls’ basketball team, came to end, the Lady Bulldogs were 11-14 overall and advanced to the second round of the MHSAA Class 5A Playoffs before being knocked out by eventual state runner-up Brookhaven High School.

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“I was proud of that. That was a really tough bracket,” Moore said. “This year, we’re hoping to meet or beat expectations. It depends on what the MHSAA does.”

Moore said that one of her favorite things about coaching is watching the kids learn and seeing them improve not only in practice, but during the game.

“They’ve improved fundamentally. I’ve seen a lot of growth,” Moore said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores. We have a lot to build on. We have three seniors.”

Now in her second season, Moore has to deal with one game after another being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And with Region 6-5A play just around the corner, she realizes that the Lady Bulldogs need to get as many games played as possible.

“It’s been quite tough. Yes, the schedule constantly changes. They’re used to having two games a week,” Moore said. “Some weeks, we go without playing at all. It’s been especially tough for the seniors. We’re trying to remind them there is a goal to meet. As a coach, I think it’s really overwhelming because you’re trying to keep the other coaches and players encouraged.”

And then there’s the work she has to do as the school’s athletic director. So far, she gotten a lot accomplished and there’s even more that she wants to accomplish — both athletically and academically.

“We’ve been able to help our sports get back on the right track. Upgrade some of the facilities. Areas of support in our sports,” Moore said. “Growth in relationships with our players. It’s been hard with COVID (going on) to talk to the players. I’ve definitely seen a lot of growth.

“All around, I want to improve sports and athletics for the district. I want them to improve academically. I want to improve as far as growing our facilities. Improving our community outreach as far as our alumni. If we continue to do that, we will be headed in the right direction.”

Moore first coached at Natchez High from 2012 to 2016, leading the Lady Bulldogs to back-to-back Class 5A state championships in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.

She left after the 2015-2016 season to return to Laurel to coach the Lady Golden Tornadoes. In her first season there, she led them to the Class 5A State Tournament and to the final eight for the first time in 30 years.