Mo Alie had unleashed a variety of moves on the basketball court Tuesday night when Coach Ryan DeHaven had the 6-foot-6 senior forward show off one more trick in the victorious locker room.
“He can palm the ball with two fingers,” DeHaven said.
Sure enough, with his massive hands and 7-foot-2 wingspan, Alie grabbed a basketball and held it aloft using just his thumb and middle finger.
When he wants to be, Alie is among the region’s most imposing front-court players. And on Tuesday night, after picking up two quick fouls, the Virginia Commonwealth recruit had a bit of extra motivation. He finished with a season-high 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks to lead Middleburg Academy to a 71-60 victory over visiting Fredericksburg Christian in Middleburg.
“When he gets the ball, he knows what to do with it,” DeHaven said. “He’s going to get double-teamed and triple-teamed, but he’s really strong with the ball. You can’t get the ball out of his hands.”
Indeed, Alie was efficient, making 12 of 17 shots. He scored on an array of post moves. On one occasion, he caught the ball near the foul line, faked a jumper then dipped under a defender on his way to the basket for a layup. Another time, he weaved through traffic for a reverse layup, a move not normally seen from a power forward with the physique of a football defensive end.
Alie continually navigated around sagging defenders in the paint and moved deftly away from double teams to set up open teammates.
Alie had a bit of luck, too. One time as he drove toward the basket a bit out of control, he lofted a bad-angle shot high in the air and it bounced off the top of the backboard before falling softly through the rim.
That said, Alie knows that consistency is the key to elevating his game.
“I could do it the whole game, but sometimes I get frustrated if I don’t get the ball,” Alie said. “I try to keep my motor going the whole game.”
Eric Shaw led Fredericksburg Christian (15-4) with 14 points, but the Eagles were without senior guard Seth Allen, who has signed a letter-of-intent to play for Maryland. Allen, who had been averaging 21.3 points per game, broke a bone in his left hand during a workout Dec. 26. He will have the injury rechecked in a few weeks.