Two former Killeen Kangaroos are making a name for themselves at the collegiate level.
Freshmen Demarius Cress and junior Shon Lewis are both student-athletes at Mary Hardin-Baylor and have thrived both on and off the court.
As of Jan. 24, Cress is averaging 14.6 points per game and is second on the team in scoring.
Lewis, a transfer from Eastfield Community College in Mesquite, is averaging nearly seven points per game.
Cru head basketball coach Ken DeWeese says the two have been a blessing to have in the gym.
“These two young men are growing before our very eyes,“ DeWeese said. “I wish I had about eight other Demariuses and Shons.”
Cress and Lewis are each 5-foot-8 guards.
Cress chose UMHB (7-12, 3-6) because of the distinguished basketball program DeWeese has built in Belton and because it made him feel like home.
“When I toured UMHB, I knew it was a perfect fit for me,” Cress said. “This is where I want to spend my next four years.”
Lewis chose UMHB because it is close to home and being from Killeen he knew all about the Cru.
“I knew they had a winning tradition,” Lewis said. “I wanted to become part of coach DeWeese’s system and win a national title.”
Cress said college sports and high school sports are two different things.
“It’s a lot different,” Cress said. “Everybody is bigger, stronger and faster and you have to adjust quickly.”
Lewis appreciates his role on the Cru.
“I like to say I’m a sparkplug,” Lewis said. “I like to bring more energy to the team when my name is called.”
“When we’re down,” said Cress, “I try to bring energy to the rest of the team and tell everyone to keep their head up.”
The two have great memories donning the maroon and white in Killeen. Lewis, a 2009 graduate, had the opportunity to play with former Baylor Bear and current Phoenix Suns forward Cory Jefferson under former Roo coach Jason Fossett.
As for his favorite memory playing for Killeen, Lewis said one game really stood out.
“My senior year we went into a triple overtime to beat Boerne Champion in the area round,” he said. “That really stands out, because we had to give all we had into that game.”
Cress played under current head basketball coach at Killeen Reggie Huggins and said playing for Huggins really brought out his best.
“He wasn’t just a great coach, but also a great person,” said Cress, a 2015 graduate. “He made us push the ball and I really learned from that.”
Right now, the Cru sit in fifth place in the American Southwest Conference standings in the West Division. But with four weeks remaining in the season, both Cress and Lewis believe there is time to turn the season around and make a run for the conference title.
“We really want to win conference,” Lewis said. “That’s our main objective. I want to leave the gym knowing I got better every day.”
Cress also wants his teammates to believe in each other.
“The best of our season is still ahead of us,” Cress said. “I want to get to the ASC Tournament and have a chance to win it, because once you’re in it, it’s all up for grabs once you’re there.”
Cress and Lewis aren’t the tallest players on the court, but Coach DeWeese said they are two of the most competitive players he can remember.
“To be as competitive as they are on the collegiate basketball level is extremely impressive, because they get the job done,” said DeWeese. “I have great respect for both of them.”