MOORE HAVEN — A big exclamation came from Moore Haven High School girls basketball coach Vincent Lewis.
“Wow!,” the coach beamed after being told of the point total – 36 – racked up by his standout guard Sydnee Cypress.
Lewis gave Cypress a powerful high-five as the Terriers celebrated a memorable night in their gym Jan. 12. Thanks to Cypress’s outstanding performance as well as impressive contributions from her other Terrier teammates from the Brighton Reservation (Sunni Bearden and Aleina Micco), Moore Haven pulled away from Evangelical Christian School-Fort Myers, 78-58.
“We’ve never beat that team before. We’ve always lost to them by 20 points,” Cypress said.
Not only did Moore Haven send ECS reeling, but the Terriers did it on a senior night when the spotlight shined on Cypress, the squad’s only member from the class of 2017.
“She’s an excellent leader,” Lewis said. “She’s our team captain. She’s stepped up a little bit more and been more vocal. I’m very proud of her.”
After a brief pregame ceremony in which Cypress and her mother Eileen Cypress and stepdad Junior Martinez walked between the Terriers lined up at midcourt, Sydnee showed she was in no mood to let ECS spoil her senior night. She scored the game’s first four points and set up Bearden for a three-pointer that staked Moore Haven to a 7-0 lead.
But ECS charged back.
ECS led 38-36 at halftime, but the second half belonged to Cypress, who seized command with quick hands, a soft scoring touch in the lane and a determination level that eclipsed anyone else in the gym. Cypress dominated the third quarter with 15 points, several coming off steals as she and Bearden (18 points) forced turnovers with suffocating backcourt pressure.
After Micco (13 points) scored on a layup to give Moore Haven a 44-43 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter, Cypress shifted into a higher gear that sent ECS reeling. In a remarkable span of about 20 seconds, Cypress scored eight points with four steals and she fed Bearden for a 3-pointer. By the time ECS scored again, Moore Haven had gone on a 16-0 tear.
“We’re usually like a third or fourth quarter kind of team,” Cypress said.
Cypress scored 23 points in the second half. Overall, the Brighton trio of Cypress, Bearden and Micco combined for 67 points.
Lewis said he recognized Cypress’s high basketball IQ as soon as she joined the varsity four years ago.
“That’s something a lot of girls don’t have,” Lewis said “Syd really understanding the game, the plays. She can see two plays down the road. A lot of girls don’t have that ability, but she does.”
After four years on varsity, Cypress said her final regular season home game couldn’t have worked out any better.
“I’m glad my family came, and I scored my highest on my senior night,” she said. “I did good for my last game.”