Four years ago, The Bear Creek boys’ basketball team was in shambles.
The Grizzlies, in their 2004-2005 campaign, did not win a single league game and won only one other contest all season, which was on par with their previous years — the team only won a total of four games from 2001-2005.
Enter Scott Moe.
In the Bear Creek boys’ basketball coach’s first year, the team won 11 games. Last year, the Grizzlies finished with 16 victories and a winning record for the first time ever, which set the stage for the 2007-2008 dream season.
“Coach Moe is responsible for changing the mentality of the program and instilling values necessary to compete at the highest level such as hard work and dedication,” said Chad Pohlman, Bear Creek’s Athletic Director. “Scott is passionate about coaching, and has done a fine job teaching his players that success does not come without a price.”
The Grizzlies, led by a strong core of seniors in guard Nate Castle and forwards Jimmy Rehfeld and Garrett Bensen, went undefeated in the 2B Sea-Tac League on the way to their first league crown and won 20 games for the first time.
Most importantly, the Grizzlies captured their first district title and reached the state tournament for the first time in team history.
Bear Creek lost its state opener, but won its final three games to emerge victorious in the consolation bracket and bring home the fifth-place trophy to Bear Creek.
It was a breakout season for the Grizzlies and for that reason Moe is the Reporter’s Coach of the Year. But like any great coach, he deflected the recognition to his players and supporters.
“That’s not all coaching, you gotta have the horses, the great support from administration, and have kids that are willing to learn and work,” Moe said. “It’s always fun as a coach to win, but it’s fun to see kids improve, excel, and get excited about basketball. We had a pretty special group this year.”
Moe has witnessed the entire progression and transformation of his team, which had not won a single league game before 2005, as they had to learn how to win. One of the ways Moe gets his players prepared is to hold practices during the offseason, which includes an annual trip to team camp down in La Grange, Ore.
“In my first year, they got a win in team camp, and they celebrated like it was the Super Bowl,” Moe said. “To see kids go from not expecting to win, to thinking they might have a shot at winning … then expecting to advance into the postseason, was pretty cool.”
Moe attributes his team’s overwhelming success this year to being a culmination of a four-year buildup that began when his current group of seniors were talented, but raw, freshmen.
“It was part of the growing process,” Moe said of how his team was able to put it all together this season. “I don’t think you can take 100 strides every year, but we had a great group of seniors who were great leaders in addition to being great basketball players. When you combine (them) with the growth process and a lot of hard work, you get a pretty special team.”
The Grizzlies also have a very talented sophomore in Jaime Meyer, who averaged over 17 points per game en route to earning 2B Sea-Tac League Player of the Year honors.
“(Jaime) can shoot the ball really well, we run a lot of set plays for him, and as a coach it’s fun to have a kid that can shoot,” Moe said of his leading scorer. “I’m excited he’s only a sophomore. He’s coming back.”
Though the team is graduating three senior leaders, Moe isn’t worried about having to rebuild for future seasons. He’s already named three players, who will be juniors next year, as tri-captains: Meyer, as well as guards Michael Davisson and Kyle Blankenbeckler.
“We’re going to be pretty young, but we have great leadership next year,” he said. “They’re great leaders that want to work hard. We’re not going to be as big as we were and probably not as deep, but I think we still have a chance to be pretty tough, I think we’re going to surprise some people.”
Moe’s players were also true student-athletes, achieving in the classroom as well as on the court. Bear Creek won the 2B Sea-Tac League academic title this season with a better than 3.6 cumulative team GPA.
The 55-49 win that secured the tri-district title was against Darrington — a “very, very good team,” according to Moe. The groundbreaking win secured Bear Creek’s spot at the 2A state tournament. For first time the program’s history, players and coaches got to cut down the nets, a ceremony reserved for a tournament wins.
This season was one of many memorable games and firsts for Moe and the Bear Creek boys’ basketball team, but the three-year Grizzly coach said that what he will cherish the most from his team’s amazing run are the strong bonds he’s formed with those around him.
“For me, coaching is all about relationships, especially this year with those three seniors,” Moe reflected. “You get pretty close to kids, and their parents as well. Those are kids now that I consider friends. I just got invitations to all their graduation parties.
“But to experience cutting down a net, going to the state tournament, and bringing home a trophy, those are things that you will take and remember for the rest of your life.”