2024 Press Pass Sports Boys Basketball Team

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Graphic by Joe Garcia III

The Texas High School basketball season came to a close, and it was a tremendous season for the Texas Panhandle. Here’s a look at the 2024 Press Pass Sports Boys Basketball Team.

Photo by Roy Wheeler

Coach of Year

Trevor Johnson, Randall

For the past decade, Trevor Johnson has been as much a fixture in the Randall Raiders program as anybody, except for longtime coach Leslie Broadhurst.

So, it made perfect sense that when Broadhurst unexpectedly fell ill late in the season that Johnson would take the reins. Since the school opened in 1988, Broadhurst had coached every boys basketball game at Randall, including the Class 4A state semifinals in 2023, marking the school’s most successful season at the time.

At the beginning of this past February in the midst of another banner season, Broadhurst had to leave the sideline. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, forcing him to step aside from his duties and cede the coach’s whistle to Johnson indefinitely.

To say the least, that left Johnson with mixed emotions.

“Nobody’s really prepared for that moment, but luckily coach Broadhurst has been such a great influence to me,” Johnson said. “He’s trained me for 10 years to be ready for this moment, whether it’s this job or some other job.”

Johnson called the shots in the program for the remainder of the season, escorting the Raiders to an unbeaten District 4-4A championship. That was enough of an accomplishment, but Johnson also equaled the success of his mentor, as Randall reached the state tournament in San Antonio for the second season in a row, losing to Silsbee 75-68 in the state semifinals.

That capped a 34-4 season and earned Johnson the Press Pass Sports 2024 Boys Coach of the Year. Johnson says all he did was not fix what wasn’t broken, an approach which may have also earned him the 2023 Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Assistant Coach of the Year honors.

“Luckily we had really, really, really good players,” Johnson said. “They were a great senior class. Nothing new came. We continued what we’d been doing all year and the last couple of years. We didn’t really add much flair to it but we kept the thing rolling.”

That thing went rolling as far as any boys basketball team in school history has ever gone. Considering that the Raiders returned seniors like UTEP signee K.J. Thomas, Devin Baccas and J.J. Buchanan, maybe that wasn’t a surprise.

Those players won’t be back next year, but Johnson will be. The question is if it will be as an assistant coach or the head coach. Broadhurst is dealing with much bigger things than basketball, making any kind of return to the sidelines a question mark.

Yet, Johnson isn’t looking to put his name plate on the coach’s door on a permanent basis, and when the Raiders went to the state tournament, Broadhurst accompanied the team and was still listed in the program as the head coach.

“Coach Broadhurst is still the head basketball coach here, and we’re getting ready for next season,” Johnson said. “He’s more than just a head coach to me. He’s my mentor and a great, great friend to me. He’s going to be on the speed dial every single day.”

Photo by Randy Rakestraw

Player of the Year 

K.J. Thomas, Randall, 6-foot-1, guard, Sr.

n a year of unexpected and highly dramatic change for the Randall Raiders, it should have been no surprise that K.J. Thomas was an absolute constant.

On a team which went to the Class 4A state tournament when he was a junior, Thomas stood out by any standard. He established himself as a shooter with outrageous range who could stretch a defense and who was unquestionably job one for opposing defenses to consider.

Thomas signed to play at the University of Texas-El Paso last December, setting himself up for a grand finale of a senior year. Never mind that he accomplished more in his first two years as a starter for the Raiders than most high school players if you gave them a fifth year of eligibility.

“When K.J. was a sophomore, he had to take on a leadership role,” Randall interim coach Trevor Johnson said. “Not many kids at that age have to be leaders, and to see him grow more and more as a leader every single season is really, really cool. He’s such a great basketball player, but he’s a better person. I just respect him so much.”

Consider that coach Leslie Broadhurst, who has led Randall’s program since the school opened in 1988, was forced to leave his post due to serious illness late the season and have Johnson take over, and that Thomas became the face of the program. Carrying that responsibility to close out his career makes Thomas the 2024 Press Pass Sports Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Thomas obviously earns that honor on the basis of his talent alone. He averaged 21.4 points and 4.5 assists a game to lead the Raiders, along with 4.1 rebounds a game, and was named 4-54A MVP for the second straight season.

Randall went 34-4 and was 14-0 in winning the district championship. Thomas came up especially big in the Region I-4A final against Canyon ISD rival Canyon, scoring Randall’s final 10 points to lead the Raiders to a 56-53 victory and a second straight berth in the 4A state tournament.

Along the way, Thomas became the school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,592 points, and proving he wasn’t just a ball hog, also became the school’s career assists leader with 583.
“Everybody keys on K.J. every single night,” Johnson said. “They’re throwing different looks at him. His maturity as a player has gotten so much better in recognizing those looks.

People talk about his scoring, but he’s the all-time assist leader at Randall and that’s a super impressive stat. He has the green light whenever and we gave that to him when he was a sophomore.”

Photo by Roy Wheeler

Newcomer of the Year

Christian Smith, Randall, 6-foot, guard, Fr.

Considering the talent Randall returned from a team which went to the Class 4A state semifinal a year earlier, it wouldn’t seem that there would be much room for new talent on the Raiders, much less for a freshman.

However, Smith made himself right at home as a key component coming off the bench during district play and earning increasing minutes as the season progressed.

Smith was fourth on the team in scoring with 9.2 points a game as a solid contributor in Randall’s return to the state tournament.

Photo by James Abel

Fighting Heart Award

Lyric Smith, Clarendon, 6-foot-2, guard, Sr. 

Smith has been the staple and the example of Clarendon basketball as well as athletics over the past four years.

This senior year, Smith was the lone representative left from Clarendon’s back-to-back UIL Class 2A state championship teams in 2021-2022. Smith ended his four-year career with a tremendous run on the gridiron before leading the Broncos to the third round of the playoffs on the hardwood.

Smith, who will move on to play college football at Sam Houston State University, ended the season averaging 17.2 points per game with 6.7 rebounds. He was the District 2-2A Defensive MVP and a TABC All-Region selection.

First Team

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Braden Hausen, Amarillo High, 6-foot-7, guard, Sr. 

Hausen will be missed next season by Amarillo High coach Jason Pillion as he spent three years on the Sandies talented varsity winning 98 games.

He put an exclamation mark on his career his senior season helping the Sandies to a 34-5 record (tying for most wins in school history) and a trip to the state semifinals. Hausen’s length and ability to play inside and outside were a matchup nightmare for opponents.

Hausen averaged 13.1 points per game making 66 3-pointers and shooting 85.5 percent from the free throw line (53 of 62). He averaged four rebounds a game. Hausen signed with Division I High Point University (N.C.) and was named Co-District 3-5A MVP, TABC all-region, all-state Class 5A tournament team and TABC all-state.

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Zach Brown, Amarillo High, 6-foot-4, guard, Jr. 

Brown is arguably the best shooter in the Texas Panhandle with his ability to easily make buckets from beyond the 3-point arc as well as get to the basket. He was also assigned the toughest defensive assignment game-in and game-out by head coach Jason Pillion on a defensive-minded team.

Brown was a major reason AHS went 34-5 and reached the 5A state semifinals as he averaged a team-high 14.9 points per game, made 79 3-pointers shooting 49.7 percent from 3-point land, and shot 92 percent from the free throw line (45 of 49). Brown was named co-District 3-5A MVP, TABC all-region and TABC all-state.

Photo by Roy Wheeler

Victor Juarez, Palo Duro, 6-foot, guard, Jr. 

The Palo Duro Dons put together an excellent season under first-year coach Marques Loftis going 23-7 and winning two playoff games coming up two points short of advancing to the regional tournament.

One of the reasons for PD’s success was the shooting and hustle of junior Vic Juarez. Juarez and his teammates opened eyes in early December beating 4A state-bound Randall on the road 87-69 dropping in 15 3-pointers with Juarez scoring 23 points.

Juarez averaged per game 17 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.9 steals. Juarez earned first team All-District 3-5A in a talent-filled district and TABC All-Region team. The best news for Coach Loftis? Juarez returns next year.

Photo by Roy Wheeler

Devin Baccas, Randall, 6-foot-3, forward, Sr. 

Baccas made major strides from his junior to his senior year becoming not only a leader for a Randall team that advanced to its second straight state tournament but became the compliment for point guard K.J. Thomas.

Baccas was dependable on both ends of the floor for the Raiders scoring 14.7 points per game, pulling down 7.4 rebounds and picked up 2.9 steals a night. The District 4-4A Defensive Player of the Year was awarded with TABC All-Region honors.

 

Photo by Roy Wheeler

Kelson Jones, Canyon, 6-foot-7, post, Sr. 

Jones went from key role player to leader in 2024 helping the Eagles back to the Region I-4A championship game for a second year in a row.

The West Texas A&M signee came into his own as a true force in the paint for Canyon scoring a team-high 16 points per game, averaging seven rebounds a game with three blocks a night.

Jones racked up the accolades for his tremendous season. Jones was named the District 4-4A Co-Player of the Year as well as a TABC All-Region selection.

Second Team 

Gage Lunsford, Canyon, 6-foot-2, guard, Sr. 

Lunsford had another incredible season becoming a leader of the Eagles and the go-to scorer in the backcourt anytime Canyon needed a big bucket. Helping the Eagles back to the Region I-4A championship game, Lunsford finished the year averaging putting up 13 points a night with four assists and four rebounds.

Lunsford was the District 4-4A Co-Offensive MVP and was named as a TABC All-Region selection.

Camren Cavalier, Canadian, 5-foot-11, guard, Sr.

A winner on the football field, Cavalier showed just how valuable he could be on the basketball court as well. Behind Cavalier’s leadership Canadian went a perfect 10-0 in district and three rounds deep in the playoffs for the first time in four years.

The University of Harding football commit finished his tremendous season pouring in 10.4 points a game, handing out 5.3 assists a night and averaged 2.1 steals. Cavalier was the District 1-3A MVP as well as a TABC All-State selection.

Aiden Allen, Childress, 6-foot-1, guard, Sr. 

For a second straight year, Allen played a very key role in getting the Childress Bobcats to the Region I-3A Tournament. As a senior this past season, Allen became the leader of the Bobcats scoring 18.1 points a game, pulling down six boards a night and averaged three assists per outing.

Allen was the District 2-3A Offensive MVP and a TABC All-State selection.

Jaylin Sledge, Tascosa, 6-foot-7, guard, Sr. 

Sledge signed his name to the Tascosa record books with a stellar career for the Rebs and did not disappoint his senior season. Sledge led all Amarillo ISD players in scoring at 20.8 points per game frustrating defenses with his smooth play of slashing to the basket or stepping outside for threes.

Sledge added to that big scoring number averaging 8.4 rebounds a game and 3.2 assists. He finishes as the second all-time leading scorer in Tascosa history with 1,563 points, a mere 30 points shy of the all-time record. Sledge committed to Division II powerhouse West Texas A&M and hauled in the awards: Tascosa team MVP; Tascosa scholar athlete of the year; first team all-district; academic all-district; THSCA academic all-state; TABC all-region team.

Hayden Drumm, Texline, 6-foot-1, guard, Sr. 

Drumm follows in the footsteps of a long line of Texline greats and will be remembered as one of the top players in the program’s unbelievable history.

Drumm used his lengthy frame to frustrate defenses helping the Tornadoes to the Region I-1A championship and putting together another unforgettable season. Drumm ended his senior year scoring 17.7 points a game with 4.5 rebounds a contest and shot 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. For his efforts, Drumm was the District 3-1A MVP as well as a TABC All-State selection.

Sixth-man honor 

Tayesen Combs, Randall, 6-foot-2, guard Jr.

The versatile junior came on in a big way and was a major impact for a Randall Raider team that advanced to their second straight UIL Class 4A state tournament.

Improving as the season went on, Combs scored 14.9 points a game and averaged 4.9 rebounds a game. Combs earned District 4-4A Co-Offensive Player of the Year and was a TABC All-Region selection.

Honorable mention 

(Class 5A to 1A)

David Sluder, Amarillo High, 6-foot, guard, Sr.
Eli Igiranez, Palo Duro, 6-3, guard, Sr.
Alain Nziza, Palo Duro, 6-2, guard, Sr.
Jaemon Palacios, Tascosa, 5-8, guard, Jr.
JaCorey Fields, Tascosa, 6-0, guard, Jr.
Tyi Duque, Hereford, 5-7, guard, Jr.
Brylyn Lopez, Hereford, 5-10, guard, Jr.
Wiley Killham, West Plains, 6-1, guard, Sr.
Ayden Rodriguez, West Plains, 6-4, forward, Sr.
Tahqulin Brooks, Borger, 6-6, forward, Jr.
Connor Miller, Canadian, 6-1, guard, Jr.
Riggs Pennington, Canadian, 6-6, post, Soph.
Isaiah Jalamo, Childress, 5-10, guard, Sr.
Lui Agilera, River Road, 6-0, guard, Jr.
Tagg Thrash, Bushland, 5-10, guard, Jr.
Brody Baker, Bushland, 6-6, forward, Sr.
Kyler Read, Dalhart, 6-2, post, Jr.
Maddix Blanco, Dalhart, 5-10, guard, Soph.
Richard Rodriguez, Dalhart, 5-10, guard, Jr.
Talon Garcia, Dalhart, 6-2, guard, Soph.
Colt Mathews, Gruver, 5-10, guard, Sr.
Caden Armes, Gruver, 5-8, guard, Soph.
Danner Price, Sanford-Fritch, 6-2, guard, Sr.
Cade Athey, Sanford-Fritch, 6-2, guard, Sr.
Hagen Chisum, Booker, 6-2, guard, Sr.
Julio Valdez, Stratford, 6-2, guard, Jr.
Chase Lantelme, Stratford, 5-11, guard, Fr.
Anthony Ceniceros, Clarendon, 6-1, guard, Sr.
Carson Tarver, Wellington, 5-10, guard, Sr.
Bryant Tarver, Wellington, 6-2, guard, Sr.
Brendan Garcia, Wellington, 6-3, post, Jr.
Levi Ashurst, Wheeler, 6-1, guard, Sr.
Ryder McElroy, Farwell, 6-3, forward, Jr.
Corey Stancell, Farwell, 6-0, guard, Sr.
Wesley Kuehler, Panhandle, 6-6, center, Jr.
Jose Silerio, Vega, 5-9, guard, Sr.
Haiden Thompson, Miami, 6-2, guard, Sr.
Breken Early, Miami, 6-0, guard, Jr.
Luke Wheeler, Miami, 5-10, guard, Sr.
Cutter Barr, Fort Elliott, 5-10, guard, Sr.
David Meeks, Follett, 5-8, guard, Jr.
Julio Barton, Follett, 6-0, guard, Jr.
Kanyon Taylor, Valley, 6-7, post, Soph.
Tucker Schlueter, Valley, 6-3, post, Sr.
Carlos Alanis, Silverton, 5-7, guard, Sr.
Sawyer Francis, Silverton, 6-3, post, Sr.
Zaden Ortiz, Silverton, 5-9, guard, Jr.
Noah Wood, Groom, 6-5, post, Sr.
Ryan Weinheimer, Groom, 6-7, post, Sr.
Bryson Shuck, Groom, 5-10, guard, Jr.
Hayden Alston, Texline, 6-5, post, Sr.
Joe Clay, Texline, 6-2, guard, Jr.
Logan Mason, Wildorado, 6-4, guard, Sr.
Hunter Corman, 6-0, guard, Soph.
Swayde Cleavinger, Wildorado, 6-4, guard, Sr.
Kayle Rogers, Nazareth, 6-2, post, Jr.
Caysen High, Nazareth, 6-3, post, Jr.
Creed Hochstein, Nazareth, 5-11, guard, Sr.
Jaxson Richards, Ascension Academy, 6-3, guard, Fr.

Contributors

Lance Lahnert 
Lee Passmore
Kale Steed 

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