Lindsey Moore made sure she had a good view.
Nestled between a pair of teammates on the bench, Moore looked on as former Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) All-State guard Rodney Stuckey addressed the crowd during a ceremony to retire his high school jersey at halftime of the girls' West Central District playoff game against Spanaway Lake last year.
Far from being awestruck by the Detroit Pistons star, Moore just wanted a better vantage point to observe someone who had accomplished her goal of playing professional basketball.
"Honestly, setting the bar high and having a goal that is attainable is
pretty cool," Moore says. "I definitely have a goal in mind to play college
basketball and get to the next level. Definitely, anything is possible."
With every drive to the basket and every 3-point bomb, Moore is getting closer to fulfilling her lifelong dream.
Rated the nation's No. 97 player and No. 16 point guard in the ESPNU HoopGurlz 100, the 5-foot-10 Moore is a force for Kentwood. She averaged 18.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game last season, helping the Conquerors to a 22-6 mark as the team bowed out in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
This season, the Nebraska-bound senior has picked up right where she left off. At December's Nike Northwest Invitational in Beaverton, Ore., Moore helped the Conqs knock off St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) -- formerly the nation's No. 1 team in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 -- with a dazzling 19-point,
11-rebound, 10-assist performance in the championship game.
"Lindsey is as good as it gets," says Kentwood coach Keith Hennig.
Moore wants to be even better, and a couple of former Conqs provide templates for success.
Stuckey starred for the boys' team from 2000-04, averaging 26.3 points, nine boards and three assists while leading the team to a state title in his final season before moving on to play at Eastern Washington. Three years later, Kentwood guard Courtney Vandersloot was named The Seattle Times State Player of the Year after averaging 26 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals per contest.
Vandersloot now stars for Gonzaga.
Moore wants her name to ring out like theirs do.
"I think I'm getting there," Moore says. "I don't think I'm there yet. I think I'm within their range."
Although Moore didn't have much contact with Stuckey, Vandersloot had an immense impact on Moore's career. With Vandersloot's encouragement, leadership became paramount to Moore, and her passing and drives to the basket also improved exponentially.
The backcourt mates often engaged in one-on-one battles that tested each both physically and mentally. Although Moore could contend with
Vandersloot, her victories in the series were few.
Lindsey Moore's Favorites
TV Show: "Brothers & Sisters"
Movie: "What Happens in Vegas"
Actor: Matthew McConaughey
Actress: Kate Hudson
"She was just a great player; she was basically unstoppable," Moore says.
"I can honestly see [Lindsey] and Courtney being the two best players here and both of their jerseys being retired," adds Hennig.
In the duo's first season together, Kentwood went 24-5 in 2005-06, with Moore averaging 10.5 points and Vandersloot dropping in 18.5 points as Kentwood won the South Puget Sound League championship. A year later, the two meshed almost perfectly and their games flourished as Kentwood went 28-1 and placed third in Class 4A. Moore progressed as a passer and contributed 8.6 dimes a game to go along with 14.7 points.
"Having someone who sees the court that well, she makes everyone around her that much better," says teammate Jessie Genger. "We always have to be ready for the ball."
With Vandersloot at Gonzaga, the onus of being the leading scorer fell on Moore last season. She finished just shy of the 20-points-per-game mark and entered this season as the reigning league MVP. Not a bad job breaking out of Vandersloot's shadow.
"I think having Courtney there her first two years showed her the ropes and how it worked," Hennig says. "They were both girls who put in all the extra time."
Moore seemed destined for a brilliant career from an early age, dazzling observers with her shooting and all-around skills even before entering
middle school. But her small stature growing up forced her to focus on
ball-handling. With the assistance of former River Ridge coach Bill Wirtzberger, who ran an area feeder program, Moore perfected her handle by using a pair of goggles that obstructed her view of the floor.
While practice may be an afterthought for NBA superstar Allen Iverson, constant drilling and repetition in the gym have been vital to Moore's success. She relishes the opportunity to refine her game and often seeks out the
solitude of an empty gym. Moore frequently calls Hennig to ask if she can
use the high school gym to shoot around and hone her skills on the weekends -- minus the distractions of a raucous crowd.
Moore has blossomed as a floor leader and gained a reputation as a
natural talent who always puts the team before her individual accolades. Those qualities caught the attention of Nebraska head coach Connie Yori and her staff during the recruiting process.
"Lindsey was recruited because of her competitiveness, skill and great knowledge of the game," Yori says. "She's as good a passer as I've seen in a number of years. You hear of players who make others around them better -- well, Lindsey is all that and more."
Some day, Moore hopes, she'll make a triumphant return to Kentwood to have her jersey retired -- just like Stuckey. For now, though, she's just
enjoying the view.
David Auguste covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com.