HUCKABAY — Seniors Sam Moon and Aaron Pugh put up impressive numbers on the basketball court, but have done even better in the classroom.
Moon and Pugh, who were two of the Indians’ leading scorers and rebounders this season, are also their school’s valedictorian and salutatorian, and were named to the academic all-state team.
“I don’t know that that’s happened,” Indians head coach Dean Edwards said of the one-two ranking. “They go above and beyond most students.”
The duo went above and beyond most players, too.
Moon, who averaged 15.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, also earned second-team all-state honors and was first-team all-district. Pugh averaged 6.9 points and 6 rebounds per game, and was on the all-district second team.
The Indians lost by just four points in the Area round of the state playoffs, falling to Bellevue 51-47. The scene in the locker room after the game was one both players said they’d always remember.
“It was intense,” Pugh said. “It was a lot different than I anticipated it being.”
He and Moon were key parts of a core of six seniors on the team. The varsity usually only carried two or three underclassmen.
“You look back and think what you could’ve done differently,” Moon remembered. “You have regrets, but you can’t change it now.”
Both players spoke of the connection they had with their teammates, whom they had been playing alongside for years: for Pugh, it was since sixth grade, when he was introduced to basketball, while Moon moved in as a freshman.
“We’re very close, all of us,” Pugh said.
On the floor, in the heat of the game, Moon said he and his teammates could reach each other — “we were just connected,” he said.
“We knew each others’ rolls,” he added.
The end of the season created a kind of void for both players, who had been immersed in basketball throughout their high school careers.
“It really hit me once it was all said and done,” Moon said.
Gone were the three-hour daily practices, which lasted five months out of the year. Gone also was the pressure that comes with playing for a basketball powerhouse in a small town.
“The whole community (expects) you to win,” Moon said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but I think we handled it well.”
Moon, Huckabay’s valedictorian, has carried a 4.8 GPA and plans to attend Angelo State University, where he’ll be a pre-med student. Like Pugh, he said he would stick to intramurals in college, noting that three of his cousins were on athletic scholarships in college — “and they just hated it.”
Playing sports became a job for them, he said, and considering the challenge his studies would provide, Moon decided he “didn’t need any extra pressure.”
Pugh, the salutatorian, has a 4.2 GPA and will attend South Plains College to study commercial music. A guitarist, Pugh plays in the James Black Band, a Texas country outfit that plays locally.
Edwards said both students were “balanced kids” who always put academics first.
“They understand the big picture,” he said. “I’m really proud of them for what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished.”