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Nichols juggles two sports as seasons overlap

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Lometa senior Eric Nichols is in the midst of his busiest time of year.

He is the quarterback for the Hornets, which are 6-2 overall and undefeated in district entering Friday’s game at Santa Anna. In addition to preparing for a potential playoff run and possibly winning a district championship, Nichols is the starting wing for Lometa’s basketball team, which is ranked 17th in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Class 1A, Division II preseason poll.

How’s the season been going so far?

“I think its been going great, to be honest. It kind of started out slow. We lost a couple of games, a few in a row, but come district, we came out and started playing like we should have been playing all year. Now, we are looking at winning Friday night and playing for a district championship.”

What changed once district play began?

“I don’t know. Everybody doubted us and said we were going to get last in our district, and we were picked to get 45ed (lose by 45-point mercy rule) by every team we played. I guess coming from last year — a horrible season — we wanted to bounce back, and we wanted to shock the state.”

Has the team been drawing motivation this season from wanting to prove doubters wrong?

“Yes. It all started with our first game, to be honest. We were picked to get 45ed by Stephenville Faith because they won state two years in a row in the private school division. We were picked to get 45ed, but we came out 45ed them, and from then on, we just wanted to shock the state and gain some respect.”

What needs to happen to finish the regular season strong?

“We’ve got a big one Friday, and if we win that, we will just keep rolling. It is going to take a lot of defense (to beat Santa Anna). We have to stop one kid, who is their best kid. He’s real good, real athletic, real fast and a real smart player. We’ve got to stop him on defense, then I know we can score on offense.”

Obviously, you miss out on preparing for the basketball season the longer football season goes. What is it like for you as you try to balance both sports?

“Well, it is complicated. ... I love football, but my favorite sport is basketball. I grew up playing basketball since I was 2 or 3 years old. It’s tough, but I’m not going to quit one sport to go to another.”

How are you getting ready for basketball while football is going on?

“Every day after football practice, I go into the gym and shoot for 30 minutes to an hour just to get some shooting in. I’m just trying to keep my shot down, and, hopefully, once basketball season comes, I don’t lose my shot.”

What are your expectations for basketball season?

“I think we will do excellent this year. I think we can go real far and, again, we’re going to try to shock the state. My goal is to get to state. That’s our goal as a team, and I’m sure that is (head coach Aaron Nuckles’) goal.”

What is unique about this team that could allow it do that?

“Hard work. We get to practice and we go as hard as we can. Whether it is defensive drills or playing offense against a scout, we practice how we play and play how we practice. We put it all on the court.”

Being a senior, does this year have any special significance for you?

“I haven’t really thought about it. It’s my senior year, and I want to play my heart out and try to get as far as we can get.”

What are your plans after high school?

“I’m going to go and try to play college ball. Hopefully, I can get in and see what I can do in college.”

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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