It was another big year for basketball in the Golden Circle, where four girls teams and three boys teams all reached the playoffs, and it was the best season in years at Blooming Grove, where the Lions and Lady Lions both won the Kiwanis Classic titles and marched into the playoffs with strong teams.
The Golden Circle MVPs are both from the Grove as Tyler Pyburn won her second consecutive GC MVP title and Stephen Carroll was named the boys MVP.
Pyburn was unstoppable and, according to Max Preps, the talented BG post player led the nation in double-doubles.
She dominated the boards and scored on every team, averaging 23 points and 13 rebounds a game.
Carroll was the key to the Lions success both as an offensive force and a defensive anchor. He was arguably the best defensive player in this part of the state, blocking shots, making steals and leading BG’s defense that created the offense for Joey Sanchez’s team.
Carroll, who also averaged a double-double for the season, has been a leader on and off the court for three seasons and was at the heart of the Lions’ success as a sophomore when he was the GC Newcomer of the Year.
The boys team was loaded with talent, starting with Kerens seniors Tyrone Bailey and TK Davis, who were the GC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.
Bailey, who was the District 19-2A Player of the Year, took over the scoring and drive for Kerens’ young team and simply got better and better as the season wore on, leading the Bobcats to the Class 2A Region Quarterfinals.
Davis was a player teams dream of having, a do-it-all and do-what-it-takes hustling guard who was invaluable and a lockdown defender.
Blooming Grove’s John Shaw, a senior who was the Kiwanis MVP, and leading scorer for the Lions, is the GC Offensive Player of the Year, and BG sophomore Josh Glascow, a terror on the boards who came off the bench and had impact in every game he played, was the easy choice for the Sixth Man award.
Kerens sophomore Tyler Carter didn’t look like a sophomore down the playoff stretch run for the Bobcats as he emerged as a big-time player in big games. He is the GC boys Newcomer of the Year.
Rice’s talented tailback Dee Robinson, wo rushed for more than 600 yards in his career on the football field, stepped up all season on the court and became one of the top players in the Golden Circle. He was an easy choice as the GC Most Improved Player.
This year’s Coach of the Year was a shared honor as Kerens coach Augustus Moore and Blooming grove’s Rito “Joey” Sanchez were Co-Coaches of the Year.
Moore, in his second year at Kerens, did an amazing job taking a young inexperienced team and leading his kids to the Region Quarterfinals and the first outright district title in years at Kerens, where his Bobcats ran the table after losing the district opener to Cayuga with an inspiring run to the playoffs.
Sanchez has won the Coach of the Year award before, and he did another outstanding job this season, leading his team to the Kiwanis Classic title for the second time in four years and to the playoffs with a defense-first mentality and a share the ball work ethic that made the Lions the top team in the Golden Circle.
The girls also had Co-Coaches from Blooming Grove and Kerens. First-year coach Richard Cummings took over a Blooming Grove team that has made great strides in recent years and took the Lady Lions to another level by doing something every coach aspires to do: He literally made every player from Pyburn to the girls who came off the bench better.
Cummings, a caring coach who loves to teach the game, would have had his team in the Class 3A regionals if not for some unexplainable officiating in the playoffs that was so atrocious that the officials allowed a player from BG’s opponent to kick Pyburn while she was laying face down on the court.
The Lady Lions still had their best season in years and won more than 20 games and captured their first Kiwanis Class title despite losing one of their key starters to an injury early in the season be
The other Co-Coach of the Year was Kerens coach Denise Lincoln.
Simply put, Lincoln is a legend, a coach of coaches who has had a remarkable career at Kerens, where she has lifted the program to a lofty position above every program in this part of the state.
Lincoln won her 300th game this season on the final game of the regular season as her kids went unbeaten to win another districts title, and then she took her kids to the Class 2A Region Quarterfinals, where the LadyCats have been many times, including runs to the state tournament in 2012 and 201. It was a special year for Lincoln, who coached her daughter Mya, a senior, for the final time, and a special year for Kerens girls basketball again.
Mya Lincoln, who has one of the best outside shots in the GC (boys or girls) was the girls Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and a big reason the LadyCats have had so much success over her four years on the court.
Kerens Nakia Dunn, another four-year starter, was once again named the GC Defensive Player of the Year (for the third time) after leading the Golden Circle in steals and speed.
Kasey Fisher, who grew into becoming one of the best defensive players in the GC and a big part of Blooming Grove’s success story, blocked 130 shots and was clearly the Most Improved Player in the Golden Circle. Her young sister, Alex, blocked almost 100 shots.
Kerens sophomore Madison Parks was the Co-Sixth Man on the girls team after coming off the bench with impact and confidence, especially in the playoffs, this season.
Mildred’s Callie Waller was also a Co-Sixth Man after another big season in yet another sport. Waller was a force in basketball and one of the top all-around athletes in the Golden Circle, where she stars in volleyball, basketball and softball (she has already signed with Navarro).
Kerens’ Alexius McAdams was the Co-Newcomer of the Year along with Frost freshman Kyra Cerda, two players who will surely be heard from in the future.
Devonte Cumby, Corsicana
Demonte Cumby, Corsicana
Manny Haggerty, Corsicana
Tanner Carlisle, Rice
Dylan McDonald, Rice
Billy Stone, Hubbard
Logan Morrison, Hubbard
Creed Baker, Mildred
Dakayla Robinson, Corsicana
Devan Bray, Corsicana
Sydney Woods, Frost
Riley Skains, BG
Alex Fisher, Blooming Grove
Katelyn Worley, Frost
Kaylee Reed, Kerens