Best of the Decade: Moore a big piece in bigger puzzle

   “Any individual award you get, I’m convinced, is a by-product of how successful your team was.”
   Humbled is what Marcus Moore was after being told he was selected by The Post & Mail readers as male athlete of the decade.
   The former Columbia City boys’ basketball star, better known as one-half of the Moore twins, just saw himself as another piece to the puzzle that was a huge success for Columbia City athletics.
   “To be selected for this award with the athletes that went through our school is truly an honor,” Moore said. “The Blane Culps, the Deutschs, Kyle Meinika and Doug Sheckler, there are a handful of male athletes. To even be mentioned with all those guys, let alone win, is an honor.”
   Also an all-conference tennis player in high school, Moore was better known for his time on the hardwood.
   The memories of Moore that trump them all is the 2004 state finals run where the Eagle star along with his brother, Scott Moore, Doug Sheckler and others took their talents all the way to the final game in class 4A, falling to current NBA star Greg Oden.
   “My best friends are the guys I played with so it makes it easy to look back at that time and we get together and play still,” Moore commented.
   Moore comes from a talented team where just about any player had the potential to be male athlete of the decade. But his high school coach Chris Benedict can see why.
   “Marcus had stretches where he could really take a game over,” Benedict said. “He could score from the outside, drive or change the game defensively. Those two guys (Marcus and Doug Sheckler) were our two main guys and everyone knew that.”
   Some of the biggest games for Moore came in the postseason. After seeing his team fall short in 2003, he got Columbia City its first sectional title in three seasons with a team-high 14 points in the title game.
   The list of high school accomplishments are staggering to any basketball player. In his three seasons with heavy minutes at varsity, Moore helped a top 10 ranked Columbia City to a record of 65-9.
   A Indiana junior all-star in 2003, Moore finished out his career as 11th on the Columbia City all-time scoring list with 847 points. First-team All-NHC honors followed a third consecutive conference title for    Moore while the Eagles went undefeated at home in three straight seasons.
   “I was fortunate enough to play with the same great group of guys all the way through school,” Moore said. “That’s not as common now but I got to play with some great players.”
   There was no doubt that talent would take Moore to the next level with several mid-major college interested.
   “I had Army, Navy, Ball State, Indiana State, Moorehead State, UNC Wilmington and Drake interested,” Moore said. “But I don’t regret where I went. I had great coaches and teammates and wouldn’t change it  for the world.”
   Out of all those, the little school of Grace College in Warsaw won out not only one Moore twin but two with Scott Moore signing just days after Marcus.
   “Through the whole process we really wanted to separate it,” Moore said. “The funny thing was, the way it turned out. I committed to Grace one night and didn’t tell anybody. Scott did a few days later without any conversation between us. Obviously it was right for both of us.”
   Moore moved on to Grace eventually ending his Lancer career second on the all-time scoring list with 2,351 points. In his senior year of 2007-08, Moore averaged 20.3 points per game and again experienced a deep run in the postseason.
   Later named a NCCAA All-American, Moore was part of a Lancers team that appeared in the elite eight of the NAIA national tournament.
   “It was a big transition for me,” Moore said. “We’re 19-12 my freshman year and hadn’t lost that many while at Columbia City.
   “My senior year had a lot of similarities to my high school senior year. The feeling you get in a postseason run is the same. High school was more personal but college was on a bigger stage with the competition.”
   After finishing up his career at Grace, Moore still had more basketball left in him. That only left the professional level as the next option.
   An opportunity to go international landed Moore on the Wanneroo Wolves team in Perth, Austraila.
   “I really wanted to still play but I thought I was done after an injury my senior year,” Moore noted. “I go to Indianapolis and had a job doing sales and then I got into a league and the fire snapped back into me.”
   Moore’s talents carried over well to the pro level averaging 19.1 points and being named first-team all-defense.
   However, Marcus didn’t make the trip alone with his  life long teammate Scott also being picked up by the Wolves.
   “I’ve had the best point guard that you could ask for in the past 25 years in Scotty,” Moore exclaimed.
“We tried out for some teams out there and the first team signed us right on the spot,” Marcus said. “We got the opportunity to play together again so we didn’t workout for anyone else and it just worked out that way again. We figured if we could play together and they were going to pay us there wasn’t anything better.”
   After one season, Moore brought his professional career to and end despite other offers. Now, the once Eagle star himself is working with current players as assistant coach for both boys’ basketball and tennis at CCHS.
   “I enjoy where I’m at,” Moore said. “I love teaching, coaching and trying to share some of my own experiences.”