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Mosby leads AAU team to national challenge

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


When you've never lost a game in the state of Florida, there's a natural tendency for a team to get excited about the challenges of a national tournament.

Such is the case for Brooksville's Bernice Mosby, who will be traveling with the Clearwater Green Wave, the state AAU basketball champions who are among 68 teams competing at the AAU National Championships, which open Saturday in Amarillo, Texas.

"I know we can beat anybody there this year, if we play hard," Mosby said. "Last year at nationals, we played when we wanted to. We beat the teams that were ranked and lost to teams we should have beaten. This year, we're getting up for every game."

The Green Wave have yet to lose to an in-state opponent in their five-year existence, and Mosby's improved play has helped the team keep that streak alive this summer.

"She's made tremendous improvements, and you know how good she already was," said Green Wave coach Jon East. "She's just developed more parts of her game. You could always count on her for rebounding and blocked shots, but she's now turning and facing the basket, getting more of an outside shot."

Mosby, a junior-to-be at Hernando who led the Leopards to a district title in the spring, was the MVP of the state AAU championships, scoring the game-winning basket on a driving move to break a tie with 1.8 seconds remaining in the title game.

She started playing with the team while attending middle school in Clearwater and has stayed with them since moving to Brooksville. Though she has two years of high school ahead of her, a national tournament is an opportunity for Mosby to showcase her abilities for the college coaches and recruiters in attendance.

"She's going to play Division I ball somewhere," East said. "The college scouts already know her. After one game, a coach from Kentucky walked up to me and offered a scholarship on the spot. She could play in college right now. She could excel at that level."

That could be said for several players on the Green Wave roster. Forward Dominique Redding, a sophomore-to-be at Clearwater, was the Times' Pinellas County Player of the Year last season, and guard Kelcey Roegiers-Jensen, a sophomore-to-be at Boca Ciega, earned second-team all-state honors.

Three of the nine players have been with the team since its inception, winning state titles at age 11 in 1996 and this year as 15-year-olds.

The 68-team field in Amarillo will be pared in half during pool play, then the remaining teams compete in double-elimination mode. The Green Wave's goal at nationals is to make it out of pool play, which begins Saturday at 9 a.m.

It is an ambitious goal, considering three teams in their pool include nationally ranked teams from Illinois, Louisiana and Minnesota. Mosby said a key to her team's success is to not be intimidated, but avoid being overconfident at the same time.

"You can never think you're the best there is," Mosby said. "There's always going to be someone better than you out there."

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