Sunday, March 1, 2015

Briarcrest's Thomas, St. Mary's Kaylan Pugh voted state's best at basketball

image and story from Commercial Appeal

Don’t get him wrong; Micah Thomas has no intention of returning the Mr. Basketball trophy he won Saturday. But he knows there’s still work to do.

The Briarcrest standout captured the award Saturday, finishing ahead of Ensworth’s Jordan Bone and Darius Garland of state champion Brentwood Academy.

Despite battling a foot injury for a good portion of the season, the 6-7 junior averaged 14 points and four rebounds per game, while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 41 percent from 3-point range.
His efforts helped Briarcrest to a 25-9 season that ended with a loss to Brentwood Academy in the semifinals.

“I still wish we had won,” said Thomas. “I am surprised a little bit. I could have played a lot better and now I’m going to have to work a lot harder.”

Thomas — who has offers from the University of Memphis and several other schools — is the third Briarcrest player to win Mr. Basketball. Leslie McDonald was the winner in 2008 and 2009 while U of M standout Austin Nichols was honored in 2012 and 2013.

St. Mary’s senior Kaylan Pugh won the D2-A girls award, beating out last year’s winner Micah Sheetz of Knoxville Webb and University School of Jackson standout Anna Jones.

A prolific scorer since her eighth-grade year, Pugh saved her best for last, averaging 29.2 points while shooting 70 percent from the floor. The 5-9 Ohio State signee also averaged six boards, three assists and four steals per contest. She leaves St. Mary’s with over 2,700 career points, a total that places her in the top 10 all-time in Shelby County.

Pugh was unable to attend Saturday due to a family emergency, but Turkeys coach Emily Owens had plenty of praise for her star.

“She’s made our program,” she said. “She’s been the face of St. Mary’s basketball; her impact has been immeasurable. And she’s a lot of fun to be around and when you think of the academic rigor at St. Mary’s ... she’s special.”

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