BC’s Moore overcomes tragedy to lead a special Bucks squad
Two days before his team was to play in the Division IV state semifinals against Ottoville, Buckeye Central girls coach Greg Moore invited the BC boys basketball team to come in and practice against his players.
Moore admitted it wasn’t a completely popular move among his squad, with some of the players expressing concern that they might get hurt.
Moore didn’t flinch.
“I said, ‘You can’t go through life being hesitant,'” Moore said in an interview Tuesday evening. “‘I had 30 years of safe driving.'”
That was before the car accident three years ago that caused the BC coach to lose one of his arms.
But the coach — and the team — bounced back from the tragedy. He returned to the Bucks quickly.
Very quickly. As in, a week after the accident.
“It has driven me,” Moore said of his injury. “But I was driven before.”
And two years later, Moore — a former Bucyrus girls coach who before that assisted at Crestline — has led the Bucks to a phenomenal season.
They go into today’s state semifinal 26-1. They won the outright Northern 10 Athletic Conference title, behind a brilliant season from senior Jenna Karl. Karl — who also led the Bucks to a state appearance in volleyball last fall — was the N10 Player of the Year and an all-state selection.
The do-it-all point guard finished averaging 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and nearly five steals a game.
There’s also another all-Ohio selection, Courtney Pifher, who averaged more than 18 points and 10 rebounds as a junior.
BC clicked this season. But it has been a long road. In 2014-15 — the season of Moore’s car accident and Karl’s freshman season — the Bucks went 10-13 and finished in seventh in the N10.
The next season, BC was 16-8. And last year, they went 21-5, and reached regional semifinals — where they lost to today’s opponent, Ottoville.
But even after a pair of really strong seasons, this year has been different.
“I think we have great chemistry,” Moore said. “We always had that, these kids have bought in. We told them, ‘We need to get 2 percent better every day. You have to do the little things.'”
One of those little things is accountability. And during the summer, Moore realized his team had it.
BC was in Bluffton, playing Columbus Grove in an exhibition. The Bucks were up six late, but some mistakes cost them the game.
After that game, senior wing Emily Stump asked if she could address the team. Stump told her teammates the loss was on her, and it wouldn’t happen again.
“I knew then,” Moore said. “Walking off, I said, ‘we’re gonna be all right. If we can ride some storms out, we’re gonna be OK.'”
They’ve been better than OK. The only loss of the season came Dec. 27 at league rival — and fellow title hopeful — Carey. Three days later, the Bucks were at a holiday tournament in Mansfield, playing Division I Olentangy.
BC won, 47-35.
“They have more kids in a class than we have in our school,” Moore said he was told by an assistant.
But that win was the beginning of what has become a 21 game winning streak.
The Bucks have been tested, too, and not just in the postseason. Moore said the loss to the Blue Devils in December made every N10 game after that like a playoff contest. And with that pressure, Buckeye Central kept winning.
So now it’s come to this. BC’s first state appearance since 1992, well before any of Moore’s players were born.
It’s a first for Moore too, and he said he’s talked to other coaches about the experience, including Upper Sandusky girls coach Brent Fahle, who was an assistant for the Ram boys during the Diebler years.
The message has been the same.
“Take a second,” he said, “and just to enjoy the moment.”
There’s been a lot to enjoy this season.