Tim Rippy gets choked up and his eyes watered when talking about losing senior guard Sydney Moorman after this season.
"I'm extremely proud of Sydney," said Rippy, Siloam Springs' girls basketball coach, while holding back tears. "It will be extremely hard to lose her."
Why the emotion on the 5-foot-6 senior guard Moorman? Rippy pauses, looking for the right words.
"She does everything right," he said.
There are common words associated with Moorman throughout her career in a variety of sports: Dependable, coachable, leader and hard-working just to name a few.
Rippy remembers stopping a girls basketball practice this summer to make a point to the Lady Panthers on why Moorman finished No. 1 overall on a skills test.
"She's been the most coachable kid that we have," Rippy said. "She's not the best athlete. She's a good athlete. She's not the best athlete we have, but she does everything that we ask her to do. As a coach it's hard to lose that."
Moorman is in the midst of a solid 12th grade season for the upstart Lady Panthers (9-3, 1-1), who are scheduled to play at Greenbrier on Friday. The Lady Panthers' home game against Alma on Tuesday was not played because of covid-19 quarantine protocols with the Lady Airedales.
One of three seniors, along with Quincy Efurd and Mia Hevener, Moorman's work ethic is second to none, her coach said.
"All three have an important role and they each have filled that role really, really well," Rippy said of the Lady Panthers' seniors. "Syd's role has been a little bit expanded this year. She has become more vocal in practices to lead. She's always led by example. Her work ethic is superb. We've never had to get on to her about work ethic. If we are getting on to her it's getting on to her about a correction, not a work ethic thing. That in itself, when your seniors are coming in and they're going to lead by example and how hard they do and they also lead vocally, it's really made it easy to piece together the three classes to make us a cohesive unit."
A contributor on the varsity since her sophomore year, Moorman is adapting to a new role this year for Siloam Springs.
After playing the team's primary point guard position last year, Moorman has moved to an off-guard role as sophomore Mimo Jacklik has taken charge at the point. Moorman is averaging 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
"I like it," Moorman said of her new role. "It shows a lot of different opportunities for things, I think it helps the team in a way when we've got more than one person being able to handle the ball also. It just gives me an opportunity to do different things with my teammates and help our team as a whole."
The new role allows Moorman to be more of a shooter and scorer in the offense, and that was on display this past Friday when she led the Lady Panthers with a season-high 17 points in a 57-31 win over Mountain Home.
Moorman hit four 3-pointers, including three straight in a stirring third quarter run, to help Siloam Springs put away the Lady Bombers.
"She's just so solid on both ends of the floor," Rippy said. "She doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Compared to when she was a sophomore her turnovers are way down. I think because of that her confidence has grown. When she's playing with confidence our team tends to play with confidence as well."
Moorman also brings a championship pedigree to the Lady Panthers.
Before a back injury sidelined her cross country career, Moorman was a two-time state champion on the Lady Panthers' cross country team as a freshman and sophomore.
She also won a state title as a freshman starter on the Siloam Springs girls soccer team in 2018. She'll rejoin soccer once basketball season is over, she said.
Moorman said her experiences and successes in other sports have helped her in basketball.
"Definitely going in and seeing how that (2018 soccer) team worked together and seeing how older girls lead young girls, I think it's defintiely helped me lead my teammates in a positive way," she said. "Doing all those things, I've learned a lot about being a leader. It's just helped me become well rounded in all aspects because I see different types and things in different sports."
Rippy said he enjoys watching his basketball players compete in other sports.
"There's little things I can observe as a fan about their personalities that give me more insight on how to deal with them, how they respond under pressure situations and what not," he said. "I think what sticks out about Syd, specifically, is she's a competitor and she's not afraid of the big moment. She wants to be involved in the outcome at the end. She wants the ball in her hand. She's not afraid to go to the free-throw line. She's not afraid to make a big defensive play for you, and I've seen her confidence grow."
Moorman said her athletic career will end with high school, as she wants to go to the University of Arkansas and study business.
"I cherish it while I'm still in high school because I know once I leave high school I will never get to do this again," she said. "So I just enjoy it and I love what I'm doing."
But before that time comes, she's hoping to lead the Lady Panthers back to the state basketball playoffs, where they haven't been since 2018.
"I think not being able to get to go (to the state tournament) the past two years has pushed us -- as seniors -- more because it's our goal," Moorman said. "This is our last season. It's something we really want. I think it makes us work harder. Not that we didn't work hard in the past. We have this goal. We want this."
5A-West Conference basketball standings
Vilonia 65, Siloam Springs 43
Greenwood 84, Greenbrier 48
Mountain Home 34, Alma 25
Russellville 42, Van Buren 41
Siloam Springs 57, Mountain Home 31
Vilonia 57, Alma 34
Greenbrier 57, Van Buren 49
Greenwood 79, Star City 71 (nonconference)
Russellville at Greenwood, ppd
Alma at Siloam Springs, postponed
Greenbrier at Russellville, postponed
Greenwood at Van Buren, postponed
Mountain Home at Vilonia
Siloam Springs at Greenbrier
Russellville at Alma, postponed
Van Buren at Mountain Home
Vilonia at Greenwood