Now, at playoff time, a new leader responds Former role player Moore leads Doves on mission to be great Western team

Girls basketball

March 13, 1997|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Western senior Marian Moore finally seems to have adapted to all the attention she has been receiving.

Before a game, opposing coaches devise strategies to contain her. During the game, college coaches are present to scout her. After the game, reporters want to speak with her.

Only two years ago, Moore was shrouded in anonymity, a role player on a nationally-ranked Western team that included two-time Player of the Year Chanel Wright and the flashy Kimberly Smith.

The Doves completed a 26-0 season that March by winning their second consecutive Class 4A state title.

But Wright is now at North Carolina, Smith is at Georgetown, and the unassuming Moore has become this season's top player for the area's most celebrated program of the past 20 years.

Moore, a 5-foot-10 forward, is the top scorer (17.9) and second-leading rebounder (7.1) for the 11th-ranked Doves (24-3), who will meet Montgomery Blair in a Class 4A state semifinal at 5 p.m. today at UMBC.

"Going to the states is different this time because they [Wright and Smith] were the leaders before, but now I have to lead the team," said Moore, a co-captain along with Western's other senior, Keivette Hammond. "It's something I've had to get used to."

In fact, feeling comfortable in a leadership role took Moore a year. As the top returning player on a team that had graduated its starting lineup and was devoid of seniors last season, Moore was counted on by coach Breezy Bishop to assert herself.

Moore had a fine season, averaging 13.8 points and 10.0 rebounds as a junior, but Bishop said: "She really didn't stand out. I think she felt like 'all my sisters have left and left me here with all these freshmen.' She didn't know how to handle it."

The pressure on Moore intensified because of the high expectations every Western team faces. The Doves went 19-6, a record that was the least productive in Bishop's 24 seasons at the school, and the team finished unranked in the The Sun's Top 20 poll.

But Moore and her teammates entered this season determined to take their place in history alongside Western's numerous championship teams.

Moore, a B student who has received an NCAA qualifying score on the Scholastic Assessment Test, also set her sights on attaining a scholarship to a good Division I program. She didn't sign early, because the type of schools she was interested in did not reciprocate with an interest in her.

"I told her she could either sign with a mediocre school, or wait and work hard," Bishop said. "I've been extremely hard on her. But the more I yell at her, the harder she works."

Moore, a versatile player with tremendous leaping ability, is now being recruited by Maryland, North Carolina State, Florida, Florida A & M and Northeastern.

She has played especially well in the Class 4A North regional playoffs, averaging 27.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in four games.

Perry Hall coach Linda Caccavalla, whose team upset Western in the region finals last year but lost to the Doves in this season's semifinals, recognized a distinct difference in Moore this season.

"She's not the same ballplayer she was a year ago," Caccavalla said of Moore, who scored 26 against the Gators this season after being held to 11 last year. "I saw a lot more confidence there. If she missed a shot, she'd follow it up and make it. Last year, she didn't do that."

To Bishop's surprise, Moore has become a leader off the court, as well. In the fall, Moore and Hammond organized a six-week conditioning program for the team's freshmen and sophomores that included running, aerobics and lifting weights.

"I looked out on the track one day, and I couldn't believe it," Bishop said. "The kids responded, and they look up to her. She nurtures the underclassmen, whether it's spending a few minutes with them after practice or driving them to college games. She has really stepped up."

Pub Date: 3/13/97

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