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Leopard star leads on, off floor

Bernice Mosby was a force as Hernando advanced deep into the post-season.

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 23, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- The first time Bernice Mosby's name appeared in the newspaper, she was listed as a survivor.

Her 12-year-old brother, Gus, had died in a car crash that also killed her uncle, former Hernando standout and NFL star Jerome Brown.

Nine years later, it's common to see Mosby's name in the paper under better circumstances, but the Hernando junior has come to understand how quickly an athlete's successful career can be cut short.

The 6-foot forward has constant reminders, like every time she plays a pickup game at the Jerome Brown Community Center. As she looks ahead to her senior season, recruited by college basketball powerhouses such as Tennessee and Connecticut, she hopes she can be someone to inspire young athletes in Brooksville as well.

"There are a lot of little girls in Brooksville who don't have anyone to look up to," Mosby said. "I mean, one girl has to make it out of Brooksville sometime."

Four years ago, Hernando looked to have a budding star in Mosby's sister, Mabel Brown, who was a first-team All-Suncoast selection by the Times as a sophomore.

A pregnancy kept her from playing the next year, and she did not regain her academic eligibility as a senior, the same year Mosby started with the Leopards varsity.

"I think she realized that by what her sister did, and what she wasn't able to do, that gave her extra incentive to stay out of trouble, to keep her nose clean," Hernando coach Rodney Byrd said.

Mosby, who helped Hernando to a final four appearance as a freshman, nearly led the Leopards back there this season. Hernando's 23-4 season ended with a loss to Titusville Astronaut in the Class 4A regional final, a game in which Mosby had 16 points and 16 rebounds.

She led Hernando County by averaging 22.7 points and 12.8 rebounds, but her biggest strength might have been her versatility. When opponents pressed the Leopards' young guards, Mosby brought the ball up the court, often battling for rebounds on the same possession.

Her sister now lives in Pinellas County, and the two often talk when Mosby practices with the Clearwater Green Wave, one of the top AAU teams in the Southeast.

"I looked up to my sister, looked up to her for everything," Mosby said. "She's always telling me to keep doing what I'm doing, to keep my grades up."

Mosby has made the honor roll each quarter this year while showing great improvements in her ability to focus in games. She is rewriting Hernando's record books, especially during one torrid stretch in January.

Her career best was 29 points until she scored 41 in a 54-49 victory over cross-town rival Central. That topped her sister's 35 points and the school record of 36, set twice by Kristi Poore 12 years earlier.

As if there were any doubt, Mosby followed that with a 40-point game in a 62-50 victory over Leesburg and another 25 points in a second win over Central. Entering the week, the top three scoring games in Hernando history totaled 107 points. Mosby scored 106 in a five-day span.

She has surpassed her sister in the record books, and, at 17, now is taller as well.

Mosby isn't done improving her game, however. Among her goals for her senior season is dunking and adding an outside shot to her arsenal.

"I've been working on my three-point shooting after practice because I guess I've been scared to shoot them," she said.

"I still think I can do better."

All-Suncoast Girls Basketball Team

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bernice Mosby, Hernando

FIRST TEAM: (Player, yr, school, comment)

C Catherine DuPont, Sr., SPC, 20.4 ppg, 13.2 rpg.

F Renea Phelps, Sr., Sickles, Led team to best season.

F Dominique Redding, So.,Clearwater,Dangerous inside and outside.

G Kelcey Roegiers-Jensen, So., Boca Ciega, 21.4 ppg, 60 three-pointers.

G Nicole Warder, Sr., Hudson, Cobras' all-time leading scorer.

* * *

SECOND TEAM: (Player, yr, school, comment)

F Ebony Adams, Sr., Pasco, County's top scorer.

C Jeralynn Campbell, Sr., Armwood, Dangerous defender inside.

C Candice Dupree, Jr., Wharton, 17 ppg, 11 rpg.

G Qunisha Rush, Sr., Lakewood, Shot 62 percent from field.

F Alayna Sherwood, Sr., Ridgewood, Rams' top rebounder, scorer.

* * *

HONORABLE MENTION: ACADEMY OF HOLY NAMES -- Danielle Darby; ARMWOOD -- Marlana Spencer; BAYSHORE CHRISTIAN -- Ericka Womack; BERKELEY PREP -- Christine Gladysz; BLAKE -- Janet Howard, LeKemma Kellum; BOCA CIEGA -- Lauren Karfonta; BRANDON -- Rosanna Davis; CENTRAL -- Kerry Donegan; CLEARWATER -- Kasie Muchler; DUNEDIN -- Sarita Merricks; GIBBS -- Kyeesha Edwards; GULF -- Angela Dodd; HUDSON -- Jen Barrett; INDIAN ROCKS CHRISTIAN -- Amy Johansen; KESWICK CHRISTIAN -- Kristen Mock; LAKEWOOD -- Shauna Danford; LAND O'LAKES -- Alison Foster; LARGO -- Dee Feazell, Sheena Walton; LECANTO -- Erin Bailey; PLANT -- Cassie Gonzalez, Christena Pyle; RIDGEWOOD -- Crystal Ayers, Joeyn Dearsman, Jen Sessa; SEMINOLE -- Jen Hansen; SEVEN RIVERS CHRISTIAN -- Sherry Atwood; SICKLES -- Tosha Ross; SPRINGSTEAD -- Roe Finlayson; ST. PETERSBURG CATHOLIC -- Virginia Foster, Becky Tapp; TAMPA CATHOLIC -- Glenna Dickman; TAMPA PREP -- Amber Langston; WHARTON -- Merari DeJesus; ZEPHYRHILLS -- Jessica Clancy.

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