LAMPASAS — There is no need to search for motivation.

Boys basketball teams across the state opened practice for the upcoming season Wednesday, and almost all entered with the same goal of making the playoffs.

While Lampasas is no different, the Badgers have additional incentives to succeed, including making school history by reaching the postseason for a fourth consecutive year.

“That’s our biggest goal,” Badgers wing Kolbe Penick said. “We want to be the first team to be able to push our way into the playoffs for four straight years.”

Other forces drive Lampasas senior Qadir Tolliver.

“I just want to keep the season going as long as possible,” he said. “I don’t want it to stop, because I don’t want my high school career to be over.

“We just need to have the right mindset and constantly want to get better.”

Accomplishing their goals, however, will be challenging.

The Badgers lost all five starters from last season to graduation, including all-region guard Kyle Sims, all-district defensive player of the year Bryce Winter and all-district first team selections Austin Martin, Phillip Blackstock and Xavier Nix.

The significant changes create both issues and opportunities, and while Lampasas head coach Aaron Nuckles knows it will take time to create cohesion on the court, he has no doubt it will come.

“My confidence stems from knowing how much better these guys have gotten and knowing how much better than can get,” he said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Along with Penick and Tolliver, the

Badgers will also rely on returning

wings Asiel Gary and Jalen Strickland and post Raven Wade, who are each entering their senior season, among others.

Last year, the group helped Lampasas post an overall record of 25-10, including a 50-48 victory against Giddings in the opening round of the playoffs.

Things are different now, though.

“It’s exciting because we’re getting more minutes and time to play,” Penick said, “but we have to become leaders because we’re the seniors. We have to increase our roles both on and off the basketball court.”

It is a position Tolliver is excited to inherit, especially after being hampered by shoulder injury throughout his junior season.

“I really want to be a leader,” he said. “Last year, I was trying to be a leader by teaching them, helping them and guiding them through what to do.

“But now that I can play, I feel like I can really help the team out a lot more than I could when I was on the sideline.”

The Badgers start their schedule Nov. 10, traveling to Georgetown East View, and they have a little more than two months before beginning their playoff push, facing Taylor in the District 27-4A opener Jan. 11.

If all goes according to plan, Lampasas will make history with a fourth consecutive playoff appearance, and although it will not be an easy endeavor, there is no need to search for motivation.

“I tell them all the time that we’re not good enough to take days off,” Nuckles said, “but they expect to win. It took a while to build that because they weren’t going to the playoffs every year and winning 20 games every year, and I’m not saying we will this year.

“But they expect to, and once that happens, players tend to achieve more.”

Contact Clay Whittington at

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