After all Hico accomplished on the hardwood this season, senior leader Michael Warren says the best memories he’ll take with him are of going through it all with his best friends - his Tiger teammates.
Warren’s teammates won’t be forgetting him either.
The 6 foot, 7 inch center was the foundation on which Hico built its combined record of 61-9 over the past two seasons, including a 35-4 mark and the program’s first regional tournament appearance this year. The Tigers set a school mark for wins, eclipsing the record of 26 set by last year’s team.
Coaches statewide took notice of Warren’s dominance, naming him to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 2A All-State team.
It’s an honor Warren never could have imagined earning early in his career.
“My sophomore year I was out of shape and not very coordinated,” Warren admitted. “(Head Coach Drew Coffman) pushed me to get better, and I did.
“I’m still kind of awestruck by it,” Warren added.
“When I first got here he was kind of raw,” said Coffman, who just completed his third season at Hico. “But you could tell there was some serious potential and talent there. Looking back now, you can see how all his hard work paid of. He absolutely worked his tail off these last three years, and he deserves every honor he gets.”
Warren may not have resembled an All-State player as a sophomore, but by his senior year, he proved himself worthy.
He averaged a double-double at a shade over 18 points and 10 rebounds per game in leading Hico to achieving its two biggest goals.
“Our goals were to be district champs and make it to the regional tournament,” Warren said. “It was a great feeling to accomplish our goals because we worked hard to get there.”
Achieving those goals was a big contributor to the individual honors, Coffman says.
“It’s easy to convince other coaches you have good players when you go 35-4,” said the head coach. “A lot easier than if you have a losing record.”
Warren was named District 6-2A MVP after the Tigers raced through the league with a perfect 14-0 record. He was also named to the all-region team, along with teammate Drew Polk.
Polk, a junior guard who was the district’s offensive player of the year, averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists per game.
“Drew is definitely our big-game player,” Coffman said. “When the lights are the brightest, he’s at his best.”
Coffman backed up his statement with examples, such as Polk’s career-best 26 points in front of a packed house when the Tigers hosted Dublin for outright possession of first place early in the 6-2A race.
“He also scored in double figures in both our playoff wins,” Coffman pointed out.
Warren may be leaving Tigers, but Polk will return.
“To me, having a good point guard back is like having a good quarterback in football - you always have a chance,” Coffman said. “(Drew’s) the catalyst for us. He’s definitely someone you can build upon.”
Warren was pleased to share the all-region honor with Polk.
“We worked well together,” said Warren. “I would post up and he would find me, or I would kick it out to him. He’s one of my best friends. It’s cool to share it with him.”
In fact, sharing success with friends has been the best part of the entire experience, Warren says.
“Just the team and being around the team all the time was the best thing about it,” he said. “It was awesome to put Hico basketball on the map. Most of my teammates are my best friends, and we got to do it together.”