By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
Salado basketball coach Kenny Mann had a problem.
He had no point guard entering the season.
Colton Meiman had decided to graduate early. So, Mann looked to sophomore Kase Spears.
Spears, the younger brother of Salado senior Koby Spears, helped Salado to the area round of the 3A playoffs this season after the Eagles struggled in the first half of the district slate.
"It is pretty tough to play without a point guard, and I saw some potential there," Mann said of the younger Spears. "As the year moved on, he just got better and better with the way he handled the ball. He made the offense run and ... turned into a real solid offensive player for us."
For his efforts, Kase Spears shared the District 25-3A Newcomer of the Year award with Lampasas sophomore Shonderius Howard when the all-district team was announced earlier this week. His brother, Koby, was a first-team selection.
Howard and Lampasas didn't make the playoffs, falling short in the final week of the season, but Howard's impact gave the Badgers a shot.
"The thing with him is that he is still pretty raw, but he is really athletic and had some good games when he was being aggressive, and he really helped us on the defensive end," said Lampasas coach Rob Shivers. "In our non-district schedule he was our leading scorer at about 11.5 points per game. It came down a little in district, but, overall, he had a great season."
Making the District 25-3A first team for Lampasas were Mason Murray and Brandon Scott.
"Last year, (Mason) was a backup and he probably didn't look for his shot much," Shivers said. "He had a great stretch in district where he had a couple of 20-point games and he did a great job of being confident and getting his teammates involved."
Scott, who was also a first-team 25-3A selection on the football field, anchored the Lampasas defense.
"He is just so athletic. ... He was the defensive MVP last year, and missed it by one vote this year," Shivers said. "Offensively, he never really shot the ball the way he wanted to but he always guarded their best guy and he was the most vocal leader we had."
Joining Koby Spears on the first team from Salado was senior Jada Kornegay.
"(Spears and Kornegay) were definitely our scorers, but their leadership was huge," Mann said. "This was their third year on varsity ... and their experience there helped this team not panic at the halfway mark and keep everyone believing that we could still (make the playoffs)."
Liberty Hill juniors Shane LaCaille and Blake Danielak were named district MVP and Defensive MVP, respectively, and Burnet senior Grant Cole was the Offensive MVP.
Liberty Hill seniors Tyeler Greenstreet and Stephen Graves, Burnet senior Jacob Pollard and Taylor junior Jeremy Snyder rounded out the first-team honors.