Albany Times Union
Crusaders feel rich with Darien Moore
Freshman nicknamed “Payday” leads team to No. 2 ranking in state
TROY — Darien Moore is an equal-opportunity offender to opposing defensive units as the Catholic Central boys’ basketball star is adept at going to the rim with authority, punishing with mid-range jumpers or knocking down 3-pointers. Moore is just as menacing as a defender, helping to make his team a sectional champion for the first time in 42 years.
“I take a lot of pride in being well-rounded, especially with the mid-range game. Hitting those mid-range jumpers makes my game easier,” Moore said. “I can drive it, but if the pull-up is there, I can take it or pass it to one of my teammates (at the 3-point line).”
But perhaps even more impressively, Moore has become the unquestioned leader of a squad as a freshman who plays as if he was about to graduate high school.
“His maturity on the basketball floor is something people can see,” CCHS coach Guy Dibacco said. “For those that don’t know, he is the same way off the floor. Little kids come up to him after a game and he talks to them. We talk about, whether it is fair or not in a K-through-12 school, being a role model in the hallways. I think he has taken that to heart.”
Moore’s all-around excellence, leadership and the way he goes about his business on a daily basis matches his nickname well as he is known as “Payday.” The freshman continues to show how much of an asset he is for the Crusaders (24-1), the state’s No. 2-ranked squad. Up next for CCHS is a Class B state semifinal date Saturday against No. 3 ranked Southampton (21-5), the champions from Section XI.
The Crusaders, with Moore serving as the team’s leading scorer as an eighth grader last March, advanced to the sectional final and dropped a 51-50 decision to eventual state champion Ichabod Crane.
“It definitely pushed me,” Moore said of the defeat. “I have checked off one of my goals winning the (sectional) chip and us getting better as a team. The loss motivated me to want to get here. I am happy we are here. We have worked with each oth
er. We know the goal was to win a state championship. We are going to keep working until we get there.”
Dibacco, who never once mentioned the sectional loss to the Riders, saw the desire in his players to accomplish more than they did a year ago. He has been witness daily to Moore’s pursuit of excellence and the mature nature in which he handles everything he does.
“Hungry is great. Humble is even more accurate,” Dibacco said. “He has his eyes on a bigger prize for himself. He has been exposed to a lot of basketball and a lot of different voices. When he find his rhythm, he will excel. We are starting to see it. I am starting to see it in practice, on the bench and in other aspects. We get great reports from his teachers in school.
“He is a student of the game. Darien cherishes every minute he has on the basketball court. He puts countless hours into individual work and team work. I think it shows in his passion and in his smile.”
Basketball has long been a love for Moore.
Growing up in Hudson, he learned from two great players from Hudson’s past in Isiah Heard and Tyrone Hedgepeth. When told how some observers that watched him play thought he was a senior, Moore immediately smiled and said, “It makes me feel good. I try to show my maturity and respect to people. I am going to keep looking forward and being the same kid I am.”
“You know, it is rare,” Dibacco said. “A lot of times you hear about older players that ‘let the game come to him.’ He is a sponge. Darien will listen. He will try new and different things. He has a competitive nature: he’s the guy you hate to play against, but want on your team. Darien does not like to lose.”
The freshman vowed after falling to Ichabod Crane 12 months ago to elevate his game. He has done so in averaging 23.0 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.3 steals a game this season.
“During the summer, I would get up at 6 in the morning and worked on other stuff like conditioning,” Moore said. “After that, I would work on my skill set. The majority of the time I am working on my skills.”
That self-improvement was not solely geared toward offense.
“His defense kind of fuels him,” Dibacco said. “He likes to play in the open court and he is not a kid that asks anyone else to do it for him. He is not a kid that will defend halfheartedly at the 3-point line and look out and hope one of his teammates find him. When he wants to go, he sets the example. He has great body control, both offensively and defensively, and it is fun to watch.”
“Being a defensive leader on the court helps us win more games and makes things easier on the offensive end,” Moore said. “I definitely take a lot of pride in the details at the defensive end.”