YORK — Rarely, if ever, have the Bay Rivers District boys basketball fortunes of two people been as closely linked as those of Elijah Moore and Jeremy Jordan.
Jordan has had some other good players come and go in coaching Grafton High to 72 wins the past three seasons — Joe Cibrin, Blake Ream, Kevin Barnes, Jesse Santiago and Tyler McMillan — but Moore has been the brightest star.
The partnership is about to end as Moore nears a decision on playing at the next level: likely at a prep school or junior college. Their final game together will be Monday, as Jordan coaches Moore on the East Squad in the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star Game at 8:30 p.m. at the Christopher Newport University Freeman Center.
"The opportunity to coach in the all-star game once in your career is huge, but to do it in back to back years is great," Jordan said. "If all of the guys who are supposed to be there show up, like (Old Dominion recruit) Ramone Snowden and (North Carolina State recruit) Anthony Barber, this could be one of the best teams the East has ever had.
"Getting the chance to coach Elijah one last time is going to be bittersweet. The last three years have been tremendous."
In Jordan's first year as varsity coach the Clippers went 5-17. Moore played on the junior varsity that season, but Jordan paid him plenty of attention.
"He was always on me because he knew I could be a good player," Moore recalled. "He wanted me to rebound more and play a lot smarter, cut down on my mistakes."
Moore, 6-foot-5 and slender as a sophomore, made big strides in those areas but then, as now, he was most productive on the wing.
"We wanted to get him the ball in space on the perimeter," Jordan said. "He's been much better all along facing the basket and we knew he was going to be a wing on the next level or a face-up four man (power forward)."
Post man Joe Cibrin was often the main focus of opposing defenses Moore's sophomore year. That often left Moore open on the perimeter, and he took advantage in averaging 12 points (along with seven rebounds).
The Clippers improved to 17-10 in Jordan's second season. The highlight was a 46-34 win over Bay Rivers champion Tabb in the district tournament championship game on the Tigers' floor.
"They had beaten us three times in a row, all by large margins, so that was a little payback," Moore said.
It also set the stage for Moore's next two seasons, two of the winningest ever for a Bay Rivers program. Moore grew two inches to 6-7 between seasons, when he lived in the gym.
"He had such a great summer leading into his junior season, because he really committed himself to basketball so he could become a college player," Jordan said. "A lot of scouts in Maryland and D.C. started eyeing him as a Division I recruit.
Moore said, "Coach Jordan told me I needed to become more of a leader and all-around player."
He did just that, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds, earning first team all-state honors in leading the Clippers to a 27-3 record and AA Division 4 state championship game appearance. The highlight was his 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Clippers a 56-53 win over Tabb in the Region I championship game.
"That was a pretty big deal for the team and the whole school," Moore said of the run to the state title game, which ended with a 70-69 overtime loss to Christiansburg. "No basketball team at the school had ever went that far."
The Clippers would do it again Moore's senior season, when he led them to a 28-3 record, although they were beaten 56-48 by Salem in the state final. The biggest addition to his arsenal was the ability to score on the run, off of the dribble or in transition.
Subjected to double teams or gimmick defenses many nights, he increased his scoring average to 22 points, while remaining near the 10-rebound per game mark. He delighted the invariably large crowds at Grafton home games with at least one dunk — and often two or more — per outing.
A couple of more slams and a victory would make for a successful end to the Moore-Jordan partnership
"I just want to have as much fun as possible, play my game and maybe get some dunks," Moore said. "Coach Jordan has helped me a lot.
"I remember my first varsity basketball practice. He told us he wanted us to succeed in basketball, but also in school and in life."
"Jordan said, "We certainly want to win the game. We went to the state finals with something like 18 and 20-game winning streaks, but ended those season with losses.
"A win would be a good way to send Elijah off to whatever comes next."
VHSCA All-Star week schedule
Girls basketball: 6 p.m. at Freeman Center
Boys basketball: 8:30 p.m. at Freeman Center
Baseball: 7 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium
Girls soccer: 5:30 p.m. at Captains Field
Boys soccer: 7:30 p.m. at Captains Field
Softball: 10:30 a.m. at Captains Park
Volleyball: 2:30 p.m. at Freeman Center
Football: 7:30 p.m. at Darling Stadium