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Southwestern's Thomas motivated to keep Class A Spartans on track
January 10, 2013VYPE MAGAZINE - Central Indiana
By Paul Gable
For VYPE Magazine (Central Indiana)
Two years ago, the Hoosier State got a small sampling of the basketball talents of Southwestern (Shelbyville) point guard Annie Thomas.
As a freshman, Thomas electrified the summer basketball crowds during scrimmages at Banker's Life Fieldhouse.
Fast forward two years, and Thomas, now a junior, has the Lady Spartans back in the thick of things on the Class A level.
In the latest ICGA Class A poll, the Lady Spartans (10-3) were ranked seventh, and much of that has to do with Thomas, according to second-year head coach Bill Taylor.
"Annie is the spark plug that makes the engine run. When she is on the floor, we know we have a chance. She leads us in most everything and is rapidly approaching 1,000 points in her career," Taylor said.
Much of her success can be linked to the fact that Taylor has had to run Thomas out of the gym on numerous occasions.
"She has always worked hard, and we don't have anyone on our team that works as hard as she does. She is a gym rat, who constantly works on improving. It is not by accident that she is as good as she is," Taylor said.
As a freshman, Thomas played a vital role in the success of the Lady Spartans, but it was last year that her game took off.
Both Taylor and Thomas say that a lot of it had to do with growing up and maturing.
I have really seen her grow up, mature and become a floor general out there. I don't think there is any question that she is our leader," Taylor said.
Thomas said she had to adapt to high school basketball.
"My freshman year, I started out of control and tried to force a lot. Now, I have tried to develop into more of an all-around player and develop a jump shot. I am working on keeping a better attitude and getting my teammates involved, and that is all I can do," Thomas said.
The moves have paid off in recent seasons.
As a sophomore, Thomas helped guide Southwestern to its first sectional title since 2008 and its first regional crown since 2004.
However, the magical season came to an end against Northern Dubois at Bedford North Lawrence in their semistate meeting, as the Jeeps ended Southwestern's run by a score of 54-51. Southwestern had chances to earn a trip to the state finals, but Nicole Dodd and Haley Kinder were too much down the stretch.
Thomas finished with 12 points and seven assists in the loss.
That loss has given Thomas the motivation she needs as a junior to lead her team back to the big stage.
In the recent Shelby County Basketball Tournament, Thomas had 27 of her team's 38 points in a loss in the final to Class 2A power Triton Central.
"Annie got a taste of what it's like to cut down the nets, and I think she is using that to fuel her this year. She understands how important that is," Taylor said.
Thomas said she knows deep down her team should've been in the state final last year and she is giving 100 percent to make sure the Lady Spartans have another opportunity.
"Last year gets me thinking that I need to be focused more and ready for that opportunity when it presents itself again. There is definitely motivation," Thomas said.