The Texas High School basketball season came to a close, and it was another amazing year for the Texas Panhandle. Here’s a look at the 2023 Press Pass Sports Boys Basketball Team.
Coach of Year
By Lance Lahnert
When Leslie Broadhurst accepted the head boys basketball coaching job at a new school named Randall High in 1988, he talked from the get-go of guiding those Raiders to the state tournament.
“That was the plan all along,” Broadhurst said a few weeks ago. “It just took a little long than I thought.”
In the feel-good story of the 2022-23 boys basketball season in the Texas Panhandle – and, arguably the entire state of Texas – the only boys head basketball coach in Randall High history led his beloved Raiders to their first-ever state tournament berth.
Randall finished the historic season making a run to the Class 4A state semifinals in San Antonio losing out to eventual state champion Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy.
For leading Randall to a school record-setting performance Broadhurst is named the 2023 Press Pass Sports Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
Broadhurst led the Raiders to a 28-10 record, opening eyes during the Region 1-4A Tournament in Lubbock with a pair of lopsided wins. First in the semifinals Randall had no problem in beating a very good Lubbock Estacado team 69-55. In the finals it was the underdog role in playing a familiar Canyon ISD foe and rival in Canyon High.
Randall had dropped a pair of district games to Canyon by scores of 59-50 and 62-47. But in the regional final it was all Randall as the Raiders started fast and never looked back playing stifling defense and using the scoring of all-state junior KJ Thomas as the catalyst for the 59-44 win.
During Broadhurst’s entire coaching career as an assistant at Borger for three years, head coach for a year at Morton and 35 years at Randall, this was his 12th time to reach a regional tournament – his first to get out.
Canyon ISD athletic director Toby Tucker praised Broadhurst and his players for a memorable season.
“I’m super proud of Coach Broadhurst and his team,” Tucker said. “You won’t find a better human being. It was fun to watch the entire Panhandle root for Coach Broadhurst and the Raiders. That shows the respect he has from his peers, former players and community.”
Broadhurst has coached 1,117 games at Randall owning 647 wins. While all his teams are special as each is displayed on a wall in the hallway of the gym, 2022-23 will always hold a special place in his heart.
That’s the team setting school history making it to state.
“This season was a dream season for all of us,” Broadhurst said. “Our goal from day one was to go ‘down by the river’ and find be the first team in school history to go to state. And it was so much fun to watch our guys continue to work each day throughout the year and peak at the right time and accomplish a great milestone for our program! Our team was so close and very determined and we had high character guys with great families who supported us totally. We also had great assistant in Trevor and Kyle who worked very hard to make sure our guys were getting better all the time.
“We will all remember this great season for the rest of our lives!”
Player of the Year
Braden Hausen, Amarillo High, 6-7, Guard, Jr.
By Lee Passmore
The Amarillo High Sandies picked up close to where they left off last season and even had some familiar pieces as part of the puzzle this season.
That doesn’t mean that the same name meant the exact same piece, even if the picture still came together successfully.
Junior Braden Hausen was one of five new starters for the Sandies after a four-year run in which Hausen’s older brother Brendan teamed with Damonze Woods and Cade Hornecker to form a trio of Division I signees who had unprecedented success. That left the younger Hausen and his teammates with some big shoes to fill for coach Jason Pillion.
Braden Hausen felt ready for the challenge.
“I was pretty excited,” Hausen said. “People doubted us at the beginning and thought with us losing our big three we were going to fall off a cliff. The day they all left and we started offseason, coach Pillion told us all how they didn’t start the program and the program had been to nine of the last 11 regional tournaments. They were just a part of helping it and making it bigger.”
Now the younger Hausen can say the same thing. He was the leading scorer for the District 3-5A champion Sandies, averaging 14 points and five rebounds a game in earning first-team all-district honors along with All-Region I-5A honors.
Amarillo High went 33-5 (establishing a single-season school record for wins) and reached the region semifinals. For his part in that, Braden Hausen is the Press Pass Sports 2023 Boys Player of the Year.
After a sophomore season in which he established himself as a productive outside shooter off the bench, Hausen knew he had to bring more to the team this season.
“I just had to fall back and trust all my work,” Hausen said. “I’ve been going every day in the offseasons morning and night. I knew playing more minutes would be hard with having to play so much defense. I knew Zach (Brown) and Cooper (Pillion) would be able to hit a shot whenever we needed a shot too.”
Four of the five Amarillo High starters came into the season with the advantage of knowing the game as coaches sons. Cooper Pillion was in his third year playing for his father, Zach and T.J. Brown are the sons of West Texas A&M men’s coach Tom Brown and Hausen’s father Benji is Pillion’s top assistant at AHS.
Jason Pillion wasn’t surprised at what Braden brought to the table.
“We had high expectations of Braden and knew the player that he could be,” Pillion said. “To be successful we needed guys like him to move from a role player coming off the bench to be one of the main focal points. Especially as the season went on I thought he got better each week and by the time we hit that important run late in the year he was playing his best basketball.”
It became apparent quickly that Hausen and his Sandies teammates were up to the task at hand. Before starting district play, Amarillo High crushed metro opponents Canyon and Randall, who both made the Region I-4A championship to determine the region’s representative in the state tournament.
This season was proof that the Sandies are at the point where they reload as opposed to rebuild. It will be hard to top the legacy of Brendan Hausen, who’s now at Villanova and is Amarillo High’s all-time leading scorer. However, anybody who saw 6-foot-7 Braden play knows that he inherited some of his older brother’s talent and is probably a stronger rebounder. Braden knows he’s a different player than Brendan, but can’t deny his influence.
“I got everything from him,” Braden said of Brendan. “He was always waking me up and getting me to work out with him. I’m not just like him, but I took a lot of things from him. He helped me become who I am.
“It was a little bit of pressure but I knew I might be seen as terrible if I wasn’t up there just like him. I can follow in his footsteps. I don’t have to be as good as him, but I’ve got to be pretty good.”
Newcomer of the Year
Zach Brown, Amarillo High, 6-2, Guard, Soph.
Brown was welcomed onto the varsity this season with open arms by the Sandies. He provided some firepower from the outside, as he settled into the starting lineup and averaged 12 points a game. Brown was the District 3-5A Co-Newcomer of the Year for the district champion Sandies and came on strong in the playoffs, leading AHS in scoring in the region quarterfinal and region semifinal games. The best news is he, along with brother T.J., are two of three players who will return to start for the Sandies next season.
K.J. Thomas, Randall, 6-1, Guard, Jr.
The phenomenal shooter was a key cog to leading the Randall Raiders to their first ever UIL state tournament appearance. With his amazing ball skill, speed, and unlimited range, Thomas was the best player on the floor for the Raiders pouring in 22.9 points a game while dishing out 5.2 assists. Thomas was named the District 4-4A Co-MVP, as well as a TABC All-State and Region selection. Through three seasons Thomas has already tallied 1,777 career points and is less than 100 points from being Randall’s all-time leading scorer.
Lamont Nickleberry, Childress, 6-0, Guard, Sr.
Nickleberry is back on the Press Pass Team for a second straight year after a sensational senior season. The speedy guard helped lead the Bobcats to a historic run to the UIL Class 3A state championship game finishing with an overall record of 28-8. The District 2-3A MVP and All-State selection finished his year putting up 19.4 points a game with 5.9 rebounds, and made 3.9 steals a contest.
Cooper Pillion, Amarillo High, 6-6, Guard, Sr.
Pillion served an apprenticeship in his first two years playing for his coach father Jason, but he was more than ready to step into the master role this season. In helping lead the Sandies to a District 3-5A championship, he was the district’s Co-MVP as well as a first-team Region I-5A selection, averaging 13 points and leading the team with seven rebounds a game.
Jmaury Davis, Clarendon, 6-2, Forward, Sr.
The Texas Tech football signee and human highlight reel ended a stellar high school career as a two-time state champion Broncos. Davis leaves well decorated as the District 2-2A MVP as well as a TABC All-State and All-Region selection. Davis ended his senior season averaging 19.7 points per game, pulling down 6.3 rebounds a contest.
Kemper Jones, Canyon, 6-6, Post, Sr.
Jones led the Eagles back to the Region I-4A championship for a second straight year behind his leadership and play on the floor. The District 4-4A Co-MVP and All-Region selection scored 13.7 points a game and averaged four rebounds a game. This is the second straight year Jones has been selected to the Press Pass Sports Boys Basketball Team.
Audi Luckey, Palo Duro, 6-6, Guard, Sr.
This is the second straight year Luckey gets a nod on the Press Pass Sports Boys Basketball Team, as the senior will go down as one of the top guards to play for the Palo Duro Dons. The District 3-5A Co-MVP and All-Region selection did it all, scoring an impressive 25.9 points a game, pulling down 7.1 rebounds with 3.1 steals. Luckey shot 47 percent from the field and 79 percent from the free-throw line.
Aiden Allen, Childress, 6-0, Guard, Jr.
Allen had a breakout junior campaign putting himself on the map and becoming a huge compliment to teammate Lamont Nickleberry. The District Region I-3A Tournament MVP did all he could to lead the Bobcats to their first UIL state championship game since 1944, scoring 15.3 points a game to go with 6.1 rebounds. Allen was named as an All-Region selection for his fantastic season.
Alec Atkinson, Farwell, 6-0, Guard, Sr.
The Farwell Steers were one of the top Class 2A teams in the Texas Panhandle and a big thanks to that was because of Atkinson. The talented guard and District 3-2A Co-MVP dropped in 14.3 points a game, averaged 9.1 rebounds a night and dished out 4.8 assists. Atkinson earned TABC All-Region honors for his tremendous year.
Jailyn Sledge, Tascosa, 6-6, Forward, Jr.
Sledge had a superb junior year for the Bobcats. The District 3-5A first team selection became a leader for Tascosa averaging three steals a game on top of averaging 20 points a contest, and eight rebounds. For his efforts, Sledge was named as a TABC All-Region selection.
Chris Bryant, Canyon, 6-7, Post, Sr.
With the Jones brothers, Bryant and his 6-foot-7 frame made Canyon one of the most intimidating teams in the Texas Panhandle. Bryant used his size in a very positive way tallying 12 points a game and seven rebounds a contest. Bryant was named the District 4-4A Offensive Player of the Year and was an All-State selection.
(Class 5A to 1A)
Will Dickerson, Tascosa, 6-1, Guard, Sr.
Walid Abdelrahim, Palo Duro, 6-1, Guard, Sr.
Kelson Jones, Canyon, 6-7, Post, Jr.
JJ Buchanan, Randall, 6-0, Guard, Jr.
Devin Baccas, Randall, 6-2, Forward, Jr.
Tayesen Combs, Randall, 6-2, Forward, Soph.
Wiley Killham, West Plains, 6-0, Guard, Jr.
Ayden Rodriguez, West Plains, 6-2, Guard, Jr.
Kenyon Loftis, Hereford, 6-0, Guard, Sr.
Tyi Duque, Hereford, 5-9, Guard, Soph.
Julian Cervantez, Perryton, 5-11, Guard, Jr.
Tad Pshigoda, Perryton, 6-3, Forward, Sr.
Evan Hernandez, Dumas, 6-7, Post, Sr.
Jack Pipkin, Spearman, 6-2, Guard, Sr.
Cole Purcell, Bushland, 5-10, Guard, Sr.
Grant Whaley, Bushland, 6-4, Forward, Sr.
Devin Rutherford, Dalhart, 6-2, Guard, Sr.
Angel Herrera, Dalhart, 5-10, Guard, Sr.
Conler Willey, Dimmitt, 6-4, Forward, Sr.
Ivan Moreno, Dimmitt, 6-2, Guard, Sr.
Leo Baunelos, Booker, 6-6, Post, Sr.
Jefferson Weaver, Gruver, 6-4, Post, Sr.
Danner Price, Sanford-Fritch, 6-2, Forward, Jr.
Luke Braden, Stratford, 6-5, Forward, Sr.
Tony Duran, Stratford, 6-0, Guard, Sr.
Jordan Nation, Wellington, 6-4, Guard, Sr.
Bryant Tarver, Wellington, 6-2, Guard, Jr.
Carson Tarver, Wellington, 5-10, Guard, Jr.
Levi Ashurst, Wheeler, 6-0, Guard, Jr.
Barrett Meadows, Wheeler, 6-1, Forward, Soph.
Landyn Hack, Panhandle, 6-3, Forward, Sr.
Cuyler Mize, Panhandle, 5-11, Guard, Sr.
Logan Mason, Vega, 6-2, Guard, Jr.
Luke Mason, Vega, 6-2, Forward, Sr.
Andrew Nunez, Farwell, 5-11, Guard, Jr.
Lyric Smith, Clarendon, 6-3, Forward, Sr.
Carson Heiman, Nazareth, 5-11, Guard, Sr.
Kayle Rogers, Nazareth 6-1, Forward, Soph.
Hayden Alston, Texline, 6-3, Forward, Jr.
Joe Clay, Texline, 6-3, Forward, Soph.
Camden Sperry, Happy, 5-9, Guard, Sr.
Jimmy Reyes, Happy, 6-1, Forward, Sr.
Sawyer Francis, Silverton, 6-3, Forward, Jr.
Haiden Thompson, Miami, 6-2, Guard, Jr.
Alex Retana, McLean, 5-10, Guard, Sr.