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Niles North Shelley-Rae Moody looks for open teammates during the Niles North and Highland Park girls high school basketball game on Friday, January 25, 2013. I Stacie Scott~Sun-Times Media
Coaches and teammates praise Niles North’s Shelley-Rae Moody for her versatility on the basketball floor.
The senior guard plans to take on an additional responsibility Friday, when she will sing the national anthem ahead of the Senior Night contest against Maine West.
Moody, who sings in the choir at Evanston’s Faith Temple Church, also performed The Star-Spangled Banner before a game last season. However, the 5-foot-8 guard expects to be a little nervous before she takes the microphone this time.
“I think playing basketball is much less nerve-wracking than singing (in front of an audience),” Moody said.
Moody is plenty comfortable belting out a tune in front of her teammates, and the co-captain said she and fellow Vikings often break into song on team buses and in the locker room. Chris Brown, Beyoncé and Rihanna are among the preferred artists.
Putting her hoops career in music terms, Moody has gone from member of the choir to featured soloist this season for the Vikings, whose young squad has struggled to the tune of 3-21, 0-8.
A varsity member since her sophomore year, Moody was an important role player the last two seasons on Niles North teams that challenged for CSL North supremacy. But the departure after last season of stars Mariyah Henley (Lewis University) and Alissa Hirsh (Grinnell) left a team lacking in experience.
Moody has done her best to fill several voids.
“Her role has really changed compared to the last two years,” Niles North coach Dan Paxson said about Moody. “We ask her to do everything, and mid-season she became our point guard. She often guards the other team’s best or second-best player and sometimes we have her guarding the post.”
Moody is scoring around the seven points per game she averaged as a junior, albeit on a team scoring far less, and she is second on the team in rebounding. Once strictly a driver, Moody’s outside shot continues to improve.
The season clearly has been one of adjustments for Moody, who said she embraced the idea of playing point guard even though she initially lacked confidence in her ballhandling. Moody also has been forced to deal with losing a lot more than in previous years.
“It requires patience,” said Moody, who plans to attend SIU-Edwardsville and hopes to become a nurse. “But right now it’s not as much about winning as it is about us working as a team, finding the right balance. I think we’re finding our rhythm and working as one, and we’re winning more than we were at the beginning of the season.”
The Vikings had a morale-boosting 48-43 win over Gordon Tech on Jan. 22, a contest in which Moody scored a career-high 17 points.
Moody’s contribution in the locker room also has been important for the team, according to Paxson, and not just because the senior leads her teammates in the latest Top 40 hits — though that probably does not hurt.
“She’s not silent, but she’s not the type of leader that is a vocal drill sergeant. She leads with positive energy,” Paxson said. “She’s always smiling and having a good time. During rough stretches, kids feed off that. They are like, ‘It’s OK, Shelley-Rae Moody is smiling!’ She has provided great leadership.”