LAMPASAS — Aaron Nuckles will never forget his debut at Lampasas, but he hopes others will.
After taking over as head coach for his alma mater’s program during the offseason, Nuckles was eager to make an immediate impact.
Returning to the school he graduated from in 2000, the intention was to deliver an successful premier in his regular-season reunion with the court where he previously served as a Badgers assistant in 2011.
But things did not go as Nuckles anticipated.
The Badgers never led and failed to record a field goal for the first 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the contest as visiting Austin Lanier punctuated an 81-51 victory with a 32-point fourth quarter outburst.
Even in defeat, however, Nuckles admitted walking on the Lampasas sideline as head coach was special experience.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I just hope that we can string together some wins, and in a couple weeks, nobody remembers this one.”
The Vikings quickly claimed control of the game, jumping out to a 15-3 lead as Lampasas struggled to generate any offense.
Trailing 8-0, Badgers senior Kyle Sims recorded his team’s first point of the season on a free throw with 4:57 remaining in the first quarter, and the wing delivered an assist to teammate Austin Martin for Lampasas’ first field goal two and a half minutes later.
Lanier responded with four unanswered points, though, inflating its cushion to a dozen points, 15-3, before Bryce Winter and Kolby Penick tallied consecutive field goals for the Badgers to end the quarter.
Then, Lampasas (0-1) opened the second quarter with a 6-2 run, cutting the deficit to 17-13.
“We were pushing the pace,” Nuckles said. “We weren’t running half court offense at that point. We were running transition offense and getting the ball to the rim.
“That’s bottom line, and it was working.”
But the Badgers would not get any closer.
The Vikings retaliated with a 21-5 outburst to take a 38-18 advantage into halftime, and Lampasas never recovered.
“They just kept knocking down shots,” Lampasas post Xavier Nix said, “and they played good defense throughout the whole game.”
Nuckles agrees with his senior’s assessment after Lanier (1-0) connected on 30 of its 65 field-goal attempts, including 12 of 29 shots
from behind the 3-point arc, while limiting the Badgers to just 35 percent (20 of 57) from the floor.
“The difference in this game was they hit shots,” Nuckles said, “and we never did.
“I think it is as simple as that, because we had looks, and we got penetration, but we didn’t convert them. We had open 3-pointers, and we didn’t convert them.”
Lampasas outscored Lanier 13-11 in the third quarter as Nix accounted for four of his team-high 11 points, but the Vikings won the fourth quarter 32-20 to secure the victory behind Davion Buster’s 30-point, eight-rebound, eight-steal and five-assist outing.
For the Badgers, senior Austin Martin complemented Nix by scoring 10 points to go with four assists, while Sims finished with eight points and a team-high six rebounds. Penick also ended with eight points.
Lampasas will look to rebound from the loss Tuesday, when it hosts Canyon Lake at 7:30 p.m.
“We just have to work on our to work on our shooting and contesting layups,” Nix said. “We just need to keep getting better as a team.”