A chance encounter during her freshman year changed the course of Moneasia McCloud’s high school life. Wyandanch girls basketball coach Angelique Shannon had spotted her in the hallway that fateful day and asked the 5-11 student if she played basketball. McCloud said she’d give it a try.
Three years later — on Dec. 21 — she was standing at the line, one free throw away from the 1,000th point of her career.
But the what-if scenario of McCloud’s life is less important than the what–is. And the what-is states that McCloud did run into Shannon early in her freshman year, sparking what would be a majestic high school career. She did star at the school as a four-year starter and she did score her 1,000th point last week. In recognition of the milestone, McCloud is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“I would have played, just no one ever asked me to,” McCloud, a natural born center who can also play point guard, told the coach. Shannon took care of that and, after one game with the junior varsity, McCloud was a staple on varsity.
A few months later, when McCloud was being recognized for her outstanding play, she came to the conclusion that she was pretty good. “I realized in ninth grade when I made All-League that I was a good player,” McCloud said. “At that moment, I knew that by my 12th grade year, I was going to be so much better.”
That premonition has rung true. McCloud averaged 25.9 points per game, ranking her third in the Suffolk scoring race, entering play Tuesday.
“I am so much better than I was in ninth grade,” McCloud said. “My inside game is so much better. I can pivot and I’m stronger now . . . I shoot better now. My foul shots are so much better. That’s because I play basketball all year-round, every single day.”
Those foul shots helped McCloud reach the 1,000-point milestone. When she stepped to the line against Shoreham–Wading River with 1:35 left in a 46-43 loss, she had no idea that all she needed to do was sink one basket.
“I knew that I was getting close, but I didn’t know I was that close,” McCloud said. “Before I scored my last point, I felt like everyone was acting weird. My coach was standing up, her fingers were crossed, my mother was crying and I thought ‘what is going on?’ ”
She figured it out once she hit the free throw, her 22nd point of the game — matching her jersey number.
“They stopped the game and announced that I made my 1,000th point and I just started crying,” she said.