LAMPASAS — Aaron Nuckles watched the film.
Lampasas’ head coach and his staff studied the players, identified their tendencies and formulated methods to contend with their opponents both individually and collectively.
In the end, however, Nuckles believes plays, techniques and philosophies will have little affect on the outcome of tonight’s Class 4A playoff opener against Giddings.
“It’s going to be our toughness and physical nature versus their athleticism,” he said. “I really feel that if we show up and impose our physicality, I think it is going to wear on them down the stretch.
“We’re probably going to have to wear on them and keep grinding on them, and by the fourth quarter, the plan is they won’t want to play anymore. Hopefully, we could take over from there.”
Earlier in the season, Nuckles might not feel comfortable with the approach, but the Badgers’ run to the playoffs changed his perception of the team.
In his first year with the program, Nuckles admits the transition was difficult at times as he transitioned players into a new regime, and it was evident at the outset of District 19-4A competition.
“We started 1-3 in district,” Nuckles said, “and everybody was kind of wondering what was going on. There wasn’t much, but there was a little finger pointing.
“But I told the guys we just needed to win a couple to make things look a whole lot different, and since then, we went 7-1 in district.
The whole mental aspect of the team just changed after we lost at Liberty Hill.”
Lampasas senior Xavier Nix agreed.
“That was a really good team that we had to really play hard against,” the wing said. “So, after we lost that one, we all just looked at each other and said, ‘I’m sick of that, and I don’t want it to happen any more.”
While the Badgers (24-9) needed to rebound from a slow start in district, the Buffaloes (14-5) encountered little resistance en route to the playoffs.
With seven seniors on the roster, Giddings easily finished second in the District 20-4A standings, earning the distinction as home team in the bi-district contest hosted by Georgetown East View High School at 7 p.m.
Led by a pair of quick guards and a 6-foot-7-inch post, Giddings has the ability to dominate a game in multiple ways, but Nuckles sees vulnerabilities.
“They’re bench isn’t very deep,” he said, “and I think they’re going to have some match-up problems with us.
“I just feel like we’ve got some advantages.
Much like the Buffaloes, a majority of Lampasas’ roster is comprised of seniors, including starters Kyle Sims, Austin Martin, Phillip Blackstock and Nix, who is perfectly aware his high school career hinges on the outcome.
“I’m nervous,” Nix said, “but I’m excited, because I just want to get out there and play and win for the team and the community.
“But if this is the last game I play with this team, then I’m going to go out fighting.”
CLASS 4A BOYS BI-DISTRICT
- Lampasas vs. Giddings, 7 p.m. at Georgetown East View HS