When presented with a challenge, Kelsey Moos steps up – just ask Colfax girls basketball coach Corey Baerlocher.
During the second quarter of a Jan. 31 home game against the Bulldogs, Moos – the star and leader-by-example of the defending-champion Reardan girls – saw three of her fellow starters go to the bench with foul trouble.
It was time for Moos to take over and help preserve the Indians’ unblemished record.
She had 14 points in the quarter and finished the game with 31 points, 19 rebounds and seven steals in a win. Baerlocher quickly learned to never put Moos in a position where she has to take over.
“I was talking with Corey after the game and he said, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever do that again,’ ” Reardan coach Ed Shields said.
Moos stands out on the court. Her passion for the game was developed at an early age.
“I’ve been playing basketball for as long as I can remember,” said Moos, a junior.
She learned to love the game through her two older sisters and her older brother. Her father, Rich Moos – a 1975 graduate of Reardan High School – had 3-year-old Kelsey out on the court with her right hand in her pocket, working on her off-hand dribbling.
“You didn’t have to tell Kelsey to go out and practice,” said Rich, whose cousin is Bill Moos, the athletics director at Washington State. “You can’t force a kid, they just want to do it. And Kelsey wanted to do it.”
Moos honed her skills as a member of the Northwest Blazers, an elite AAU team that plays against some of the best teams in the nation.
At Reardan, Moos shines brightly. Fresh off a 55-42 win over Toutle Lake in last year’s state title game, Moos has led the Indians to a 24-0 record so far this year. Moos is averaging 17 points per game and Reardan has won its games by an average of 35 points.
Her contributions go way beyond the numbers, though. She’s the unquestioned leader, although a quiet one.
“I’m not a really vocal leader,” Moos said. “I keep quiet and lead my team in the right way. I know if I work really hard, the rest of the team will follow.”
Shields said Moos gives the Indians the upper hand simply by being out on the court.
“Her presence on the floor puts fear in other teams,” Shields said. “Her ability and aggressive behavior make her an outstanding basketball player.”
What she’s also doing is bringing the excitement back to a small community.
“Last year at State B we were seeing people that haven’t been here in years,” said Sandy Moos, Kelsey’s mother. “She’s helped bring the spirit of basketball back to Reardan and hopefully that tradition continues.”
Plenty of Division I colleges have expressed interest in Moos. Reardan’s gym has become a familiar place for scouts from several top-tier programs, including Washington State, Gonzaga, Arizona State and Santa Clara.
Moos – reserved by nature – is learning to deal with the attention.
“It was a little weird at first – I’m kind of a shy one,” said Moos, who said she hasn’t decided which college she wants to attend. “I’ve always dreamed of what it would feel like (to play in college) and hopefully I’ll get that opportunity.”
Rich Moos said the attention Kelsey’s been getting is exciting.
“Some would say the recruiting is a nuisance or a burden, but it’s nothing but an honor,” he said. “You have to have passion and love for the game especially if you want to go on to the next level.”
For now, though, Kelsey Moos is focused on the task at hand.
“We’re really excited,” she said of the state tournament, which runs Thursday through Saturday at the Spokane Arena. “We’re just going to focus and work hard and hopefully we’ll take care of business.”