Pearland’s Buckelew reaches 739 wins in 1,000 games
The painful losses sometimes imbed in one’s memory more than the career-defining wins, but through a lengthy tenure of coaching, Steve Buckelew has always rolled with the punches.
That’s why the sting of a recent 61-60 overtime loss to Mansfield Legacy in the M.T. Rice tournament in Waco was offset by Pearland’s four wins leading up to the championship game.
At the conclusion of the title matchup, Buckelew unknowingly reached yet another milestone - his 1,000th career game as a head coach.
Entering this Friday’s District 23-6A matchup against Alief Elsik, Buckelew has now attained a career mark of 739-261.
If you can do the easy math, that’s a 73.9 winning percentage.
With the Oilers owning a 14-7 record thus far, Buckelew’s group appears head for another 20-win campaign and a hopeful playoff berth.
“It’s nice, but it’s just a number - a big number, I guess” Buckelew said with a laugh. “Earlier this year, I got my 500th win at Pearland, and didn’t even know it until later so there was no fanfare, no celebration of any sort.”
That 500th triumph came against Angleton, and Pearland has since won seven more games.
Foremost in Buckelew’s mind now is getting his team prepared for the remainder of a tough District 23-6A slate.
“The Waco tournament has really prepared us, in the past, for district,” the veteran Oiler head coach said. “We beat Waco University and Waco Connolly in bracket play. Then we beat Manor, which was a really good, really athletic Class 4A team.
“Then we were able to get past Lakeridge out of Mansfield. We beat them on a shot at the buzzer by (guard) Javarious Washington. We had a chance to win against Legacy -- it was back-and-forth the whole game. It was one of those games where both teams were really tired after playing four games.”
As always, Pearland’s defense has played a huge part in its success this season.
“All year long, we’ve been solid defensively,” Buckelew said. “We’re starting to get a lot more points out of our bench, too.
“Javon (Lowery) is finally starting to hit his stride, also. He was very consistent in scoring for us, which helps elevate the rest of his game.”
If the playoffs are to be a part of Pearland’s season, Buckelew knows the Oilers need a four-quarter effort each time they take the court.
“Everybody we played in the tournament was bigger than us,” he said. “That goes for just about anybody we play.
“There are no easy games in district. You can’t lay an egg somewhere because it will cost you. Every game is a must win. We’ve got to play hard and play smart every game.”
Buckelew, now in his 23-third year as the Oilers’ head coach, earned his first win at Pearland in 1996 and took the Oilers to the state semifinals in 1998.
Twice the Oilers have advanced to the regional tournament under his guidance, and eight times Pearland has reached the regional quarterfinals.
The last two years, Pearland has absorbed painful last-second playoff losses to Alief Taylor (46-44 double-overtime) and Atascocita (48-46) in the regional quarters. There was also a 46-44 postseason setback to eventual state champion Fort Bend Travis in 2013.
However, for every defeat Buckelew has sustained in his career, there have been three victories.
“You just want to keep improving heading into the playoffs,” Buckelew said. “We’ve got some challenges ahead of us, but we’ll just keep plugging away.”