Basketball Long Beach Poly

Long Beach Poly’s Carl Buggs Reaches 600 Wins With Jackrabbits

After Long Beach Poly’s girls’ basketball team defeated Jordan last week, there was a brief surprise ceremony. Announcer and assistant coach Art Thompson III congratulated Poly girls’ basketball coach Carl Buggs on his 600th win with the Jackrabbits. Thompson III went through the school’s record books and added up Buggs’ total a few weeks ago and discovered the approaching milestone.

“I didn’t even realize that I was close,” asid Buggs. “It means you’ve been around for a long time and you’ve had some success. There were some years there where we were winning 30, 35 games a year which adds up. What I think I’m the most proud of is that we’ve never had a patsy schedule–we’ve always played the best teams and the toughest tournaments. We don’t duck nobody.”

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Buggs’ total career coaching tally is likely much higher. He actually came to Poly from Lynwood High as a boys’ volleyball coach, and while at Lynwood he also coached the baseball team for a decade, although he said it was with considerably less success than the Poly girls’ basketball program.

Under Buggs, the Jackrabbits have been the public school gold standard in the country for much of the last two decades. In Buggs’ tenure, Poly has produced five McDonald’s All-Americans and 47 Division 1 NCAA players, and more than 70 overall scholarship athletes. Poly has won six state championships and six CIF-SS championships in Buggs’ tenure, and he was inducted into the Century Cub Hall of Fame a few years ago as well.

Dating back to the 2004-05 season, the Poly girls are 201-1 in the Moore League and are currently on a 164-game win streak in the league dating back to 2008.

“Getting to play for a legendary coach like him has been a real honor for me,” said Poly senior leader Nala Williams. “I got to win one of those championships with him and be part of history.”

Poly’s gym is already named after one coaching legend in Ron Palmer, the boys’ basketball coach who helped change the history of the school on the hardcourt. There’s no doubt that at some point in the coming years, the school will need to petition the LBUSD Board of Education to rename the floor in the Ron Palmer Pavilion after Buggs.

His competitiveness over 45 years as an educator and coach shined through when asked for a game or a memory that jumped out when he heard the phrase “600 wins.” Buggs laughed at the question.

“The one that stick out in my head more than anything else was the year we were 36-1, We had Monique Oliver and Jasmine Dixon but we lost one game, to Maya Moore in the championship at the Nike Tournament of Champions,” he said. “We were down by like 19 and we cut it to six late in the game. The thing I remember most is she got a steal, and she’s running down the court and she goes up to dunk it. I’m thinking ‘Oh no, this is going to be a highlight forever, they’ll never stop playing this.’ And then right at the last second she turns her hand over and lays it in.”

Buggs recently retired from teaching after more than four decades as a physical education teacher, but said he’s planning on continuing to coach.

 

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.
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