By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Ta'Shawn Thomas went from follower to leader in his first full season as a varsity starter.
Killeen High's 6-foot-6 forward who replaced Cory Jefferson, now a freshman at Baylor, thought he'd be following senior Ja'Corie Baker's lead.
Instead, Thomas, who's just a junior, became a leader and a force for the District 25-4A champion Runnin' Roos and shared the district's MVP award with Lake Travis' David Eads.
"It means a lot to me. I thought this year was going to be just following Ja'Corie, but I had to step up and be a leader to the team. Just play hard and get our team ready," said Thomas, who averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks a game this season.
Baker, who averaged 14 points, three steals and four assists a game, and sophomore Tevin Bartney made the all-district first team and junior Michael Cummings and senior Eric Flemming both made the second team.
Lampasas senior Eduardo Davila made the first team and sophomore Brandon Scott made the second team in the Badgers' quest to find multiple players to step in and replace last year's district MVP Heath Hopson.
"(Thomas) stepped up big in some big games and really did a good job on both ends of the floor, not just on offense," said Killeen High coach Jason Fossett, who shared the district's coach of the year accolade with Hutto's Gant Carroway.
"I thought we had a really good year, it just ended really bad. If you throw away the last game, we kind of exceeded expectations a little bit."
The Runnin' Roos won their fifth straight district title and first outright title since 2008, but were upset by Dripping Springs in the first round of the playoffs.
Killeen finished the year at 26-9 – its first sub-30-win season since 2006 – despite returning just three lettermen and one starter from 2009's 30-7 team.
Lake Travis' Cole Vucurevich was the district's defensive MVP, Hendrickson's Jalen Washington was offensive MVP and Marble Falls junior Shane Minnick was the newcomer of the year.
"To me, it felt like it depended on how I played," Thomas said. "If I played sorry, then we were going to play sorry. If I played good, the whole team was going to play good."
Davila averaged 12 points a game for the Badgers, who finished 8-22 on the year and 0-10 in District 25-4A. Scott, who will be one of six returners next season, led the team in rebounds (five per game) and was the team's second-leading scoring, averaging seven points a game.
"He's a dynamic offensive player and, at times, he was fantastic this season and led us in scoring," Lampasas coach Scott Harrelson said of Davila.
The Badgers will play in District 25-3A next season after 16 years in 4A.
Bartney averaged seven points and seven rebounds a game for Killeen, which returns six – three starters – next season when the Roos move north into District 8-4A.
Angel Verdejo contributed to this report.