RICHMOND -- The Salesian High girls basketball program became relevant not long after Mariya Moore first suited up for the Pride.

The timing is no coincidence.

A 6-foot junior, Moore is regarded as one of the country's top underclassmen and has led Salesian in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals since her freshman season. But it's not just her constant double-doubles that have made the Pride one of the Bay Area's best programs.

"It's a tremendous (junior) class, but a lot of it has to do with Mariya because she makes everybody better," said Salesian coach Steve Pezzola. "I've said that a bunch of times, but it's just true. ... She makes other players focus and looks for them and what they're good at. It's just a remarkable skill that she has to make them better."

In the pre-Moore era, Salesian had gone 10 years without a single win in the North Coast Section playoffs. With her, the Pride needed just two seasons to win 31 games and reach the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV state final.

They ended up getting humbled on the big stage against La Jolla Country Day, but the attitude of the program has changed.

No longer are the Pride girls living in the shadow of the school's long-successful boys team. Now both programs are eyeing state championships as the postseason gets under way next week.

There's no question who will be leading the way for the girls.

The country's No. 19 ranked junior by Full Court (No. 33 by ESPN), Moore plays small forward for the Pride. Her versatility is what makes her so tough to slow down, though.


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"I want to help wherever I can help. I wouldn't say I'm most valuable in a specific position," she said. "If I need to be a passer in a game, I can do that, if I need to be a scorer I can do that."

She certainly can score when necessary -- her career-high 37 points in a January overtime victory over St. Mary's included the game-winner. That win helped the Pride split the regular-season series with their top rival and capture a share of their first regular-season league crown.

Moore averages 17.9 points per game and is working on draining shots from beyond the arc at a more consistent rate, knowing many college coaches want to use her as a two-guard. She's getting attention from much of the Pac-12, as well as schools on the other side of the country, such as Louisville.

Moore also rebounds well (8.0 per game) and plays solid defense but takes the most pride in setting up her teammates.

"When I get home after a game, I always ask my mom about my assists first," said Moore, who averages seven per contest. "I'm more concerned with how many assists I got than points.

"I like when (my teammates) score, then they turn around and say, 'Thanks.' "

Moore can thank the father of another elite scorer and passer for getting her into the sport in the first place. She and Natalie Romeo were fourth-graders at St. Catherine's in Martinez, when Moore says Romeo's father convinced her to try out basketball.

Romeo is now a three-year starter at Carondelet and part of the East Bay's highly-regarded junior class. The group also includes the St. Mary's duo of Gabby Green, a top-10 national recruit, and Mikayla Cowling, who committed to Cal after her freshman season.

But not many have had the same impact at the high school level since day one as Moore.

"She was an amazing player when she came here," Pezzola said. "She had court vision like no one else did. ... She sees the floor better than anybody, and the rest of her skill sets, which she's humbly saying got better, were already very good.

"For Mariya, everything should be excellent, so if it's very good, Mariya's not happy."

Follow Stephanie Hammon at twitter.com/stephhammon.