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Thomas named Girls Basketball Coach of the Year

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

It all started to change at North Decatur. Waldron dropped a two-point contest on the road, but Mohawks head coach Anthony Thomas noticed something that night. His team was coming together.

He was right.

Snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 51-31 win over Shelbyville in its next contest, the Mohawks finished their season winning 9 of 13 contests after the loss to the Chargers. After starting the season 3-8, there was a turnaround in Waldron. The team finished the year 12-12, won two sectional contests and gave state-ranked Jac-Cen-Del all it could handle in the Sectional 60 final.

Thomas, a first-year coach, helped the Mohawks win seven more games than last season. He also changed the culture surrounding the program, according to juniors Morgan Wood and Victoria Shaw. Last year, Waldron finished 5-17. 

For his dedication, Thomas has been named The Shelbyville News Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

“It is a program award,” Thomas said. “It is for our players, our coaching staff and our school. We all share it. Without them, I wouldn’t have an opportunity to do that. I have a lot of coaches who watch a lot of film and do a lot of scouting. They do a lot of everything. It was a total team effort.

“There are a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches in this area.”

Wood and Shaw, who each made the All-County First Team, said Thomas always expected the same thing out of them each practice and game -- their very best.

“Outside of practice and outside of basketball he still expects you to do well, too,” Wood said. “He has a lot of confidence in us. The team was more together this year. We had a coaching staff that really helped us.”

Added Shaw: “(Coach Thomas) just knows us personally and knows how he work. We just have so much respect for him. We have so much confidence as a team, because he knows we work well together as team and will get things done. We want to work hard and he works hard with us.”

Their play, along with junior guard Hannah Sullivan and freshman guard Lauryn Thomas, was pivotal during the sectional title chase. Wood led the team in scoring and was a nightmare to defend on the perimeter. Her speed, mixed with the wheels and intensity of Sullivan and the consistency of Shaw, gave Thomas plenty to work with in his first season. Coaching his daughter, Lauryn, who turned in a fine rookie campaign, added some familiarity to the position.

“These girls just had no quit in them,” Thomas said. “I am very proud of them. We had four or five losses (that were close). We all learned from it.”

Sophomore forwards Paige Fewell and Lexi Vorhies also played key minutes and provided hustle and energy for a team riddled with injuries. The Mohawks lost a starter midway through the season in junior Abby Adams.

Next year, after relying on six bodies at the end of this season, the team returns every player and will be joined by a deep eighth grade class.

The future looks bright in Waldron.

“We are excited to get to the summer,” Thomas said. “We have an influx of gym rats coming in from our eighth grade and all kids on junior varsity are returning, too. We were playing with about six kids since December.

“It was my first year. I will remember it for a while, and I am glad to have the kids that I have. I am thankful for the opportunity.”

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.