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.’ ’’
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.”