Moore has Blue Wave rolling

P. K. Yonge girls basketball coach Ash’lea Moore has benefited from having a team filled with upperclassmen leadership.

Special photo by Brad McClenny
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 12:08 a.m.

Whoever said that you can never go home again must have never met Ash’lea Moore.

Moore, The Sun’s 2000 High School Athlete of the Year while at P.K. Yonge, is in her first year as the head coach of the girl’s basketball team at her alma mater. The job of replacing her successful predecessor, Willie Powers, became a little easier when she inherited a squad filled with talented upperclassmen.

“She had paid her dues,” said Powers, who had Moore as his top assistant through the previous four seasons. “She’s a hard worker, and she earned a shot at being coach.”

Moore isn’t a stranger to hard work. During her senior year with the Blue Wave in 1999, she averaged 18.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 4.1 assists per game, while guiding the team to a 23-6 record and a berth in the state semifinals.

She turned down several scholarship offers to stay close to home and walk on with the UF women’s basketball team. Though she was rarely used during her years at UF, she crossed the bridge to her next career by simply observing.

“She never got to play as much as she wanted to at UF,” said Willie Jackson, Moore’s brother, and a former UF football standout. “But she spent that time learning more about the game. She’s always been a student of the game. She learned from the coaches around her and watched what they were doing.”

Moore is sharing that knowledge with her P.K. Yonge squad, and the team seems to be learning from its coach. The Blue Wave are 17-0 and won their most recent games in convincing fashion, 74-62 over cross-town rival Eastside and 68-15 over Dixie County.

Recent play has some, including Powers, predicting that the team may not lose a game this year. For Moore, the challenge comes from trying to balance expectations and preparation.

“If we put in the work and do what we should do, we shouldn’t be beaten,” she said. “But if we don’t do those things, you can forget it.”

The Blue Wave players have a respect and admiration for their coach’s experience. They’re aware of what she did as a player at P.K. Yonge, as well as her time at Florida, and appreciate her knowledge of what it’s like to be a player.

“She pushes us, but she knows the right things to say and when to say them,” said Blue Wave guard Jaterra Bonds. “She’ll say a lot of encouraging words when you need them.”

But Moore knows that encouraging words can get her team only so far. Now that she’s earned her way to the top spot at her former school, she’s taking responsibility for the entire program, win or lose.

“I feel that people get what they work for,” she said. “You get what you’re supposed to get. If you work hard, and do things right, good things will come.

“There’s no more passing the buck. It stops with me.”

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