The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

March 9, 2014

Moore knows championships

ENID, Okla. — Kiara Moore is all about championships.

Last year, with current Northern Oklahoma College Enid teammates Tierra Coffey and Kanesha Woods, she led Little Rock Hall to the Arkansas state championship.

Saturday, she added another ring when she had an career-high 21 points in the Lady Jets’ 89-73 upset of Eastern Oklahoma in the Region 2 championships, which sent the Lady Jets to the nationals at Salina, Kan., March 17-22.

“This one was even better because we were the underdogs, nobody expected us to win,’’ Moore said Sunday. “We lost only two games last year (at Hall). A lot more was expected out of us.’’

Moore came into the regionals with an 8.7 points per game average, but she elevated her game with 16 points in a 96-83 upset of top-seeded Northeastern A&M Friday to go with 21 points against Eastern. She had 45 points in the tournament overall.

She credited those numbers with opponents sticking tight to Rylie Swanson and Breck Clark, the Lady Jets’ top two scorers.

“That created opportunities for me go to the basket and get fouled and go to the line,’’ said Moore, who was 12 of 12 from the line against Eastern. “I don’t think I did anything different from what I have been. I don’t hesitate when I have my opportunities.’’

Moore and the Lady Jets came into the tournament confident, despite being the No. 4 seed with an 18-11 record and being 0-4 against NEO and Redlands.

“We finally got our chemistry down,’’ she said. “It took us a long time, but we finally got it down.’’

Coffey had 16 points against Eastern and 11 rebounds. Woods added seven points off the bench.

The Hall trio just seemed to step up their games at tournament time.

“It (tournament play) doesn’t scare us,’’ Moore said. “We have been through it before and we like it, although we were the top dogs then and not the underdogs. We did pick up our games. We came into the tournament confident.’’

Moore did not play because of a knee injury when the Lady Jets were blown off the court by Eastern 96-69 at the Mabee Center on Dec. 5. Some thought that might have been the low point of the season.

“That totally took a toll on everybody,’’ Moore said. “I think we realized we’re not that bad and we should have beaten them, or the game should have been closer.’’

As the Lady Jets began to mature, so did Moore once she got back on the court after spraining her knee against Seminole on Nov. 21. She missed five games before returning against Independence, Kan., on Dec. 7.

“It really didn’t affect me much except being tired in the game,’’ Moore said.

Moore said there wasn’t a turning point in her own progress, but she began to play with more confidence in the second half and began to attack the rim more.

“I just try to play the same way every game,’’ Moore said. “Like I said before, people defense us differently. It’s hard to do stuff when you have an aggressive player holding you one night and then you have somebody who is not as aggressive.’’

She got more opportunities as people tried to slow Clark and Swanson, but much of it, too, was learning the college game.

“I most definitely have learned the game better,’’ Moore said. “The college game was way different from high school. Being a freshman, you really do learn more and you adapt your game to it. I did get more confidence in myself.’’

Lady Jets coach Scott Morris got an assist from former men’s assistant Ryan Mahoney in landing Moore, as well as Coffey and Woods.

Mahoney went to a Hall game to scout future Jet Roy Owens. He and his wife, Katie, then a Lady Jets assistant, discovered the three future Lady Jets in the girls game.

Moore joked she didn’t know where Enid was when contacted, but was quickly sold. NOC Enid was one of the few schools that showed interest in her.

“Coach Morris contacted us and we came down,’’ Moore said. “The staff was good, the players were good and we liked how they ran things. We were kind of a package deal, take one and take them all.’’

The transition from high school to college was made easier by having her high school teammates and friends with her.

“We got a family deal going on here,’’ she said.

But that family has expanded.

“I do like it here,’’ Moore said. “It’s different (from Little Rock). It keeps us focused on what we came here to do, which was to play basketball and go to school. I struggled a little at the beginning, but I’m happy with where I’m at now. We’re all family. They are easy to play with.’’

Coming to Enid was a little bit of a culture shock at first, but she’s adjusted. Moore, who loves to shop, does a lot of online shopping now.

But she’s shopping for a national championship ring now.

“I’m definitely excited,’’ she said. “I felt I had something to prove here. I would love to play at a four-year school sometime.’’

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