Photos Courtesy of Fern Creek High School
After his trainer Mickey died, it was the “Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa who faced the daunting task of defeating the intimidating Clubber Lang to reclaim his heavyweight championship. But it was his arch nemesis, Apollo Creed, who trained Rocky prior to the second bout, and when Balboa wanted to put off training until tomorrow, Creed’s words still echo today: “There is not tomorrow.”
Fast forward the clock some 35 years later, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” is the song blasting in Chance Moore and Anthony Wale’s Beats headphones before a game. As a dynamic duo, it seems the two have embodied the sentiments of Creed, and they and the Fern Creek boys’ basketball team have not put off until tomorrow what can be done today when it comes to their preparation to win the sixth region.
In their recent play, the team seems to have the “eye of the tiger” and is laser focused in making a serious statement this season. And the statement is in bold print on the front of their sported hoodie: We Run the Six.
“We run the six was a saying we came up with in the summer saying we run the sixth [region], and we are coming for the sixth region title this year,” says junior point guard Anthony Wales.
It’s a hoodie the basketball program hopes sends a message to the rest of those in the tough region. “For me coming in this year, I wanted to have the title ‘we run the six’ to let people know we have been working and we feel strongly about what we have been doing,” adds Head Coach James Schooler III. “A lot of people are saying the sixth region is the top region this year in Louisville. So if it is the top region and we run that region, that’s pretty good for us. This year was all about mindset, and ‘we run the six’ puts us in the right mindset when we step out.”
Regardless of the fact that Doss has been the reigning sixth region champion the past two seasons, this group of Tigers have roared tumultuously with a 13-1 record and have knocked off some talented programs in Ballard, Trinity and even the top team standing in Fern Creek’s way in the sixth region: Doss.
“I have just been pleased with our team chemistry and our preseason workout,” Schooler adds. “Guys came in and put forth a really concerted effort to improve strength-wise, mental toughness and then our overall IQ of the game.”
It’s to no surprise since Fern Creek is loaded with experience this year. The two men leading the charge are senior guard/forward Chance Moore and junior point guard Anthony Wales, both of whom seek to create something special for this program.
Moore, who transferred from Eastern, decided to play his final year of high school basketball at the Creek. When asked why he decided to leave, he said he knew “Coach [Schooler] would put me in position to show what I can do and to allow me to show what kind of player I am.”
And his entire arsenal has been on display this year. He is averaging 18.6 points per game – five points more than his average of 13.2 points as a junior at Eastern – on 57.8 percent shooting from the field and 5.8 rebounds a game.
“He can score at will, he’s a great athlete and can rebound the ball well,” says Wales, who’s played with Moore since the third grade. Some may call it ironic, but I say it’s no coincidence that Wales played a part in recruiting his basketball buddy as a Tiger in his final year.
“I think I got him to kind of sit down and think about coming to Fern Creek and have not only the opportunity to win the state championship but to win Mr. Basketball as well,” Wales says.
Well, those two together pieced with the other parts and experience that Fern Creek has gives them a legitimate shot at hoisting not only a regional championship but a state championship come March.
Coach Schooler believes Wales’ – who averages 14.4 points per contest – consistent play at point guard will help lead the troops toward continued success:
“He has a poker face that never gets too high or too low. When you can never show any emotion and play with emotion, you can be a scary animal. And that is what he’s been for me. He’s been a coach on the floor, and every great team and every great program needs that.”
Well Rocky got his “eye of the tiger” back and went on to reclaim his championship belt. While Fern Creek’s great season is still unfolding, this fierce group of Tigers are stopping at nothing to live up to their statement “we run the six.” VT