Kyle Moore: Mom had a mean hook shot

January 23, 2017 FieldsColumn

Peggy Gay averaged 34.6 points and 16.0 rebounds in her senior season at Buckhorn. (Photo by Oscar Combs)

Peggy Gay averaged 34.6 points and 16.0 rebounds in her senior season (1974-75) at Buckhorn. (Photo by Oscar Combs)

BY MIKE FIELDS

Forty-two years ago today — Jan. 23, 1975 — Buckhorn basketball star Peggy Gay had 74 points in a 136-20 victory over Oneida Baptist.

It was a historic performance for Gay – she set a state scoring record for girls that night, and her 74 points still rank No. 2 on the state’s all-time list for girls behind Geri Grigsby’s 81 points – but it was only a small sample of her basketball greatness.

A remarkably skilled 5-foot-9 senior, Gay averaged 34.6 points and 16.0 rebounds that year (the first season the KHSAA reintroduced girls’ basketball), and was voted first-team all-state by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Stanley Caudill, her coach, described Gay as “a real fireball.”

Peggy Gay during her playing days at EKU.

Peggy Gay during her playing days at EKU.

Gay went on to become a standout at Eastern Kentucky University. She was the program’s first 1,000-point scorer, and finished her career with 1,696 points.

One college highlight for Gay came in the season opener of her senior year when she had 26 points against No. 1 Tennessee. Afterward, Lady Vols coach Pat Head Summitt said, “Peggy Gay is a super player, one of the best I’ve seen.”

After college Gay played a year in the professional Women’s Basketball League.

Tragically, Peggy Gay Moore and her husband Leon died in a car accident in Breathitt County in early December. They are survived by sons Kevin and Kyle.

Kyle Moore gained statewide recognition himself as a three-sport athlete at Breathitt County. He was an all-state quarterback and led the Bobcats to an undefeated state championship in 1996. He was also a standout baseball and basketball player at Breathitt County, but he always appreciated the fact that his mom was the basketball talent in the family.

One of his favorite stories: “We were at Memorial Gym in Hazard a couple years ago, and I was talking about playing basketball there, and I said, ‘I think the last time I played in this gym I had 27 points.’ (Mom) said, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty good. The last time I was in here I had 56.'”

Growing up, Kyle played against his mom on the basketball goal that stood at the curve of the road near their home. Sometimes his mom would team up with sister-in-law Irene Moore, who played at Breathitt County and was Miss Basketball in 1978.

“We had some good games, but they’d always beat the guys and put us in our place,” Kyle said with a laugh. “(Mom’s) go-to shot was a little left-handed hook. She’d extend it out on you so you couldn’t block it.”

And forget about beating her in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

“That was a harder task because she could do all this fancy stuff,” Kyle said. “She’d drive to the basket, take it behind her back, jump up in the air, go between her legs and shoot a reverse. I never could do that.”

Peggy Gay Moore coached girls’ basketball at Breathitt County for eight years, and guided the Bobcats to the state tournament four times. She later served as an assistant coach for the boys’ team.

“Sometimes she’d stay around after practice, and if there was a pickup game she’d play with the boys,” Kyle said. “She stayed real active, even when she was 60.”

Kyle, now the football coach at Breathitt County, said his mom’s athletic ability was heightened by her ambidexterity. (She also played baseball for Buckhorn for two years.)

“She could do anything both ways. She could shoot a basketball either right- or left-handed, and she could throw a baseball, softball or football as far right-handed as left-handed.

“She was something special.”

Peggy Gay goes to the rim during her career at EKU.

Peggy Gay goes to the rim during her EKU career.

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