Moss leads Boone County
BOWLING GREEN — Boone County's Sydney Moss knew a lot of eyes would be on her during her state tournament debut at Diddle Arena on Thursday.
Moss, a 5-foot-11 sophomore daughter of NFL star Randy Moss, didn't disappoint, scoring 28 points and grabbing 16 rebounds to lead the sixth-ranked Lady Rebels to a hard-fought 48-44 win over No. 3 Bowling Green in the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls Sweet Sixteen.
"It's a lot of pressure," Moss said. "I just knew I had to come out and play well."
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Moss showed off her skill set during one sequence in the second quarter when she blocked a shot, recovered the ball, dribbled the length of the court and missed a jumper from the free-throw line before grabbing her own rebound and scoring
"She's spectacular," Boone County Coach Nell Fookes said. "She has the best hands of any player I've coached. She just does things that you just can't teach."
Moss showed off her versatility at both ends of the floor. In addition to controlling the paint and handling the ball on the perimeter, she also harassed Bowling Green point guard Adrienne Tarrence into a 1-for-10 shooting performance.
"She's a better defender on the perimeter than she is in the paint," Fookes said of Moss. "We have to be kind of unconventional on offense and defense because (Moss) can do so many things."
Bowling Green Coach Lavonda Johnson knew her team would have a hard time dealing with Moss.
"We just wanted to contain her, but she's big, strong and athletic, and she has real skill," Johnson said.
"She was bigger and athletic and it was tough," Bowling Green senior Tiasha Coleman said. "It was tough."
Fookes told the media that the team doesn't address questions about Moss's father but said Sydney handles the expectations about as well as could be expected.
"It is a lot of pressure, but she's happy and comfortable here," Fookes said. "It's give and take. She's got our backs, and she knows we've got her back."
Not surprisingly, Moss is already being courted by several programs. Fookes said Western Kentucky, Purdue and Louisville have shown the most interest at this point.
One of Scott County's top players has added an extra accessory for the state tournament.
Junior forward Alex McKenzie is wearing a bulky mask to protect a broken nose she sustained in the 11th Region championship game last week.
On the third play of the game against Franklin County, McKenzie went up for a rebound and felt the elbow of an opposing player come down on the bridge of her nose.
"I heard it crunch," she said. "But didn't say anything till the next day. After it happened, I was like, 'Ah. I think she broke my nose.'"
McKenzie, who averages 10.7 points and 7.9 rebounds, finished the game and had the break diagnosed the next day.
She's now wearing the mask as a precaution.
Her coach, Steve Helton, said she's been practicing with the mask since Monday.
"Give her a lot of credit," Helton said. "She's practiced with the mask just three times since. Any time you add that to your uniform, it comes with some adjustment."
Team to beat?
With the early tournament departures of Marion County and Bowling Green, each of the state's ranking systems have No. 5 Rockcastle County as the team to beat followed by No. 6 Boone County, No. 7 Henderson County and No. 9 Scott County.
But the Rockets' Chrysti Noble, who earned her first state tournament win in her 20th year of coaching, wants to hear none of that.
"Everybody and every coach and probably every newspaper person knows that rankings don't matter," Noble said. "At the state tournament, it's who comes to play each night."