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Paducah Public Schools News Article

Tilghman lifts Thomas to head coach

"I feel like I have been impactful as it is, but this allows me to be in a position to impact even more people," he said. "My heart has been here for the past 13 years."

Thomas started off as an assistant girls basketball coach at Tilghman, and he took over as head coach prior to the 2011-12 season. In his four seasons coaching the Lady Tornado, he totaled 105 wins to go with just 25 losses.

He left the Lady Tornado program last year to have the opportunity to coach his son Rodriguez, who will be the top returning guard for Tilghman's boys next season.

While he had aspirations of becoming the head coach, he didn't envision it would happen just one year into his tenure with the boys program.

"The goal for me last year was to be in a position to be closer to my son playing and be around him, and if the opportunity presented itself to be the head coach, I couldn't turn that aside," he said. "For it to happen so fast, I couldn't have expected that. I hate to see (Stieg) leave because he put in so many blood, sweat and tears, but I've very happy for the opportunity."

Thomas said Stieg was a great mentor for him, as he allowed him to put his fingerprints on the program he now has control of.

It's a program that will have a new look to it next season, with Tilghman returning only junior JJ Reed and Thomas' sophomore son Rodriguez from its rotation of last year's team that completed the season with a 27-5 record. But there are worse positions to be in, as both Reed and Thomas are prized recruits who have the capabilities of leading the team.

"It will be challenging for us. Losing six seniors, we'll lose a lot points and rebounds," Coach Thomas said. "Bringing back JJ and Rodriguez will be big, but we will have our work cut out for us. We believe in what we have coming back."

Tilghman Athletic Director Kris Durfee said he had a great pool of candidates for the high-profile job, but Thomas stood out from the pack.

"Him being an integral part of the program as an assistant, him having the Division-I playing experience (at Murray State) and him being a very successful girls coach here were the big factors," he said.

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