Sunday, September 27, 2015

Set-it-back Sunday: Sierra Moore Was Superwoman

Evening Sun Photo

Delone Catholic High coach Gerry Eckenrode still plucks Sierra Moore's first varsity game with from his memory bank.

It was at Lancaster Catholic and the then-freshman was inserted off the bench midway through the first quarter. In a matter of minutes, Moore registered her imprint with a pair of athletic plays that widened Eckenrode's eyes.

Eckenrode immediately turned to assistant coach Beth Felix and flashed a rare, toothy smile.

"This is going to be a fun four years," the head coach said.

Though those four years feel as if they've gone by in four hours to Eckenrode, Moore's evolution as an electric player and sheer leader has made for a memorable ride.

Eckenrode said a player of Moore's physical gifts and major NCAA Division I aptitude comes around "once in a lifetime."

In her final season in a Delone uniform, Moore ascended the Hanover-area basketball mountaintop.

The Duke-bound McDonald's All-American stamps an unprecedented legacy as the YAIAA, Hanover area and Delone Catholic High all-time leading scorer, compiling 2,595 career points.

A muscle-bound 5-foot-11 wing, Moore averaged an area-best 24.7 points, spearheading Delone Catholic to a 23-6 campaign that ended with an aching 52-50 loss to Montrose in a foul-littered PIAA quarterfinal.

Moore, yet again, is the All-Area Girls' Basketball Player of the Year.

"I'm honored," said Moore, who inked with Duke in the fall and was named a McDonald's All-American in early February. "It's nice to get recognition, but I couldn't have done it without my teammates."

There's a litany of memorable postseason games in which Moore willed the Squirettes to the win, altering the flow of the game on both ends. When the stakes soared, Moore grabbed the driver's keys and navigated the big Delone boat deeper and deeper into the playoffs.

Moore shouldered the burden of senior savior in the District 3 Class AA semifinal against Lancaster Mennonite, exploding for 24 of her game-high 28 points in the second half.

Executing a salvo of manipulative one-on-one moves, Moore's scoring spree steered the Squirettes out of a putrid first-half rut in which they mustered a season-low 11 points against the Blazers. Moore's proclivity for getting loose off screens and attacking the rim broke open a lackluster game in the third quarter.

In the opening round of the PIAA Class AA tournament at New Oxford, Moore thoroughly outdueled Maryland-signee and former AAU teammate Tierney Pfirman of South Williamsport in a highly-billed matchup. Moore hung 28 points, yanked in 10 rebounds and doled out six assists en route to Delone's thorough 84-49 slaying.

Moore solidified her status as a jack of all trades during a PIAA Class AA second-round game Milton Hershey High School.

With a spate of turnovers nearly frittering away Delone's double-digit lead, Moore commandeered the ballhandling duties. Setting up her teammates, hitting the glass with reckless abandon and pasting Pine Grove to the tune of 22 points, Moore helped Delone impede a passionate Pine Grove rally.

The memories Moore will store and cherish from this season don't stem from Delone's state tournament run.

Those memories don't spring from any sterling performance or dramatic victory.

The moment Moore learned her invite to the McDonald's All-American Game -- a decision cloaked in secrecy before the announcement interrupted a Feb.8 practice -- doesn't bear much significance, either.

Taking the reins of a fun-loving, surrogate Squirette family holds more value to Moore.

"The hard work and effort my team and I put in means the most to me," explained Moore, who holds a 3.5 grade-point-average and plans to major in psychology at Duke.

"The unity and passion we gained throughout the season strengthened my faith in my team and helped us accomplish a lot. We came out and played every game our hardest. We did the most a hard-working team could do. I will remember the great bond our team had and all the fun times we had at practice, laughing but also working hard. When you can do both, you pretty much know you have a great team."

Winning the Bishop Guilfoyle tournament for the first time in five years in a hostile environment on Dec.30 was Delone's zenith of the regular season.

Playing for a Philadelphia Belles team front-loaded with major Division I talent on the AAU circuit, Moore's game has developed dramatically since the Lancaster Catholic game four years ago.

Hoops have become a year-round commitment, intensified by AAU trips all over the country.

A product of a hoops-crazed family, Moore enjoys watching basketball on all levels. She follows the NBA in religious fashion.

During her campus visit to Duke, Moore got a chance to meet Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. Curry's younger brother, Seth, plays for the Blue Devils. Moore also met Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick, the former Blue Devil who was training on campus during the NBA lockout period.

Which local boys' basketball player would Sierra Moore challenge to a game of one-on-one?

"Parker Bean of South Western," says Moore with a smile. "He's my boy, but I would never let him dunk on me."