Mikaiya Moore was an assistant coach last season.
“She was at every practice, she was at every game. So we named her a coach,” Copiague coach Carole Olsen said of Moore, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. “I actually would let her talk during certain timeouts. And she was like, ‘Listen, you need to do this and that.’ ’’
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But Moore has traded in her sweatshirt with the nickname “Coach Kaiya” printed on the back for a No. 10 Eagles jersey, and is now assisting from the paint instead of the sideline. The senior forward had 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks Thursday to lead Copiague to a 59-52 win over Northport in League II.
“I liked coaching, but being out for a whole season was frustrating,” Moore said. “But I learned a lot of different aspects of the game after watching practices and games from day to day. Now I see the court better.”
It has showed. Moore, who was coming off a 38-point performance, is averaging 25 points a game, second in Suffolk Class AA. She scored seven straight for Copiague in the fourth Thursday, capped by a post move in which she split two defenders and converted a three-point play to open a 53-46 lead with 3:30 remaining.
Layups by Alycia Gimler and Erin Henningsen brought Northport within 53-50 with 1:41 to go, but Moore responded with a putback to seal the victory for Copiague (10-1). Emilyae Ward added 11 points and six assists. Anna Zaborowska scored 12 points, including a four-point play to open the fourth that gave Copiague a 41-37 lead.
“To make that shot built up our confidence and helped us,” Zaborowska said. “It’s a huge win.”
Brenna Farrington led Northport (7-4) with 14 points. Kirsten Leonard added 10, including a three to pull Northport within 48-46. But Moore answered, showing she has regained the form that made her one of Long Island’s elite scorers.
“I didn’t think I could get back to the level I was playing at before,” Moore said. “But as the games went on, I’ve felt more comfortable.”
And with Coach Kaiya’s coaching career on hold, Olsen feels a little more job security.
“I felt a little threatened,” the longtime Copiague coach said with a laugh. “Mikaiya will make a great coach someday. But right now, she’s happy to be on the court.”