'Great chemistry' guides Eagles

by Mark Oliver

In the time that Audrey Moran has taken the court for the Vilonia Eagles, the program has accomplished many things. Now, as she prepares to enter the playoffs for the final time in her high school career, Moran is hoping to make her swan song a memorable one.

Moran was nominated and selected to the inaugural 501 Basketball Team, which is made up of male and female student-athletes honored for their on- and off-the-court accomplishments and contributions. The senior point guard was nominated by her coach, Alvin Riley.

“Audrey is a quality person that should excel in and accomplish whatever she attempts in life,” Riley said.

The red-hot Eagles, who currently soar on the wings of a 12-game winning streak, have the game of basketball down to a science. For Vilonia, success is all about chemistry.

“We have great team chemistry and an awesome coach,” Moran said. “We’ve all been playing together for a long time. We get along with each other off the court, and it helps.”

Last week, Moran and the Eagles (25-3, 12-1) clinched not only the 5A-West conference with a win over Alma, but the top seed in the playoffs as well, and are now writing the formula for their next project.

“After the game against Alma, our coach told us what we did,” Moran said. “We didn’t do much celebrating, though. We were excited, but we are trying to focus on the future now and go after a state championship.”

Vilonia looks to extend its winning streak in tomorrow night’s regular season finale against Shiloh Christian.

“We have a little more height than Shiloh Christian,” Moran said. “We plan to win.”

In the quest for a state championship, Moran expects that the Eagles will meet a team that has been a thorn in their side in recent years.

“Paragould,” Moran said. “They have beaten us out the past two years. If everything goes right, we will probably meet up with them in the semifinals.”

Moran attributes her abilities on the court to her biggest role models: her parents.

“A lot of people say I play a lot like my mom did in high school,” Moran said. “My dad is a big motivator, too. He pumps me up to do better and loves the sport, too. Both my parents played basketball, and I just loved sports and tried it out in the first grade and loved it, too.”

A two-sport athlete, Moran is also heavily invested in softball at Vilonia and plays left field for the Lady Eagles. However, Moran’s athletic journey has not come without its bumps along the way.

“In 10th grade, I had an injury where I cracked my fibula,” Moran said. “I had to sit out the entire state tournament for basketball and missed the whole softball season. It was tough not being able to play.”

Recuperated, Moran doesn’t take a single game for granted — in either sport.

“It still bothers me some,” Moran said of her injury. “It’s not bad enough to where I can’t play, but there’s definitely some pain here and there.”

Moran is also involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Vilonia. Despite a full schedule, she is able to find balance between academics and athletics.  

“As of right now, I go to school and then practice,” Moran said. “After practice, I come home, study and do my homework. It’s a busy life.”

“Overall, Audrey is a good student in the classroom and in the community,” Riley added. “She is respectful, always smiling, helpful and considerate of others.”

In her free time, Moran enjoys being a teenager in the 501 with her teammates.

“Our team is really close this year, especially the seniors,” Moran said. “As a team, we get along really well, and we all hang out together after school. If one or two people go do something, usually the whole team goes.”

Moran is a member of the 121 Youth group at Friendship Baptist Church in Vilonia. After high school, she expects to attend Central Baptist College in Conway to play basketball and to pursue a degree in elementary education.