Getting past Shoemaker's defensive back court wasn't easy, but not impossible.

Getting past Grey Wolves forward Chris Runnels and post Jose Roman proved to be another challenge.

Runnels, a 6-foot-3 senior, averaged 15.5 points, 11 rebounds (five offensive), and 2.5 blocks per game to earn District 12-5A's defensive player of the year award Wednesday when the all-district teams were released. “We're a man-to-man defensive team and we try to pride ourselves on keeping the ball in front of us and helping on the perimeter,” Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea said. “I think Chris got noticed because he caught a lot of our mistakes by blocking shots and, on offense, he hit some shots ... and then he would go back and get the defensive rebound.”

Roman, a 6-6 junior, averaged 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds and earned second-team all-district honors for Shoemaker, which reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and won its first 5A playoff game in school history on the heals of the two big men.

“They were kind of what carried us. We don't get the third seed in 12-5A and we don't win a playoff game without Chris and Jose,” Minatrea said.

Copperas Cove freshman Rashard Odomes was the district newcomer of the year.

Ojai Black (Ellison), Thomas Cherry (Harker Heights), Daniel Mills (Belton) and Cory Scott (Copperas Cove) were all first-team selections along with Temple's Avery Polchinski.

Odomes, who averaged 17.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 assists, led the Bulldawgs to a fifth-place finish in the 12-5A standings, but had them right in the mix for a playoff berth with two games to go. Senior Trivez Tucker was a second-team selection for the Bulldawgs, as well.

“To be able to come in as a 14-, 15-year-old kid and play with 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids is amazing, especially with the composure that he has,” Cove coach Billy White said of Odomes. “He never seemed to get ruffled out there; it never really seemed to bother him to play in tough spots. But, that's what happens when you're a natural at something.”

Cherry averaged 12.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and two steals a game and was one three Heights all-district seniors — C.J. Rodriguez and Trumell McCrimmon were both second-teamers — that had the Knights in contention for a second-straight district title late into the season.

“They were three seniors that we really depended on and those guys pretty much carried us the whole year,” said Heights coach Celneque Bobbitt. “I had only one (returning starter) that came back after that regional team that we had the year before. ... I thought it would be awesome for us to finish in the top-4 and in all actuality, we finished 12-2 again this year, just like we did last year to win the championship.”

Ellison was an even bigger unknown with only Black, who averaged 17.2 points and five assists a game, returning from last year's regional quarterfinal playoff team.

“It was a lot of pressure on him — he went from being the lone sophomore on the varsity (in 2011) to being the man on the varsity all in one year,” Ellison coach Alberto Jones said. “That was a tough transition for a kid, but I thought he did a good job at it for us.”

Along with second-team juniors Malik Hawkins and James Jessie, Black led the Eagles to their 18th-straight playoff appearance.

Mills averaged 20.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and nearly a block a game to lead the Tigers this season.

A&M Consolidated senior Alex Caruso was the District 12-5A MVP and Consolidated coach Rick German picked up the coach of the year title.

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