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Addison Nichols leads Delta girls basketball to near perfect regular-season record

Delta senior guard Addison Nichols led the Bobcats to a final regular-season record of 25-1, which included two tournament championships and going unbeaten versus Missouri opponents. Photo by Jay Forness

Prior to Addison Nichols becoming one of the premier girls basketball players in Southeast Missouri at Delta, the Bobcats didn’t even field a team in the 2017-18 season when she was in the Oran school district.

Fast forward to today, though, and Delta has recorded four-straight, 21-plus win seasons with Nichols. Addison has become a back-to-back, two-time Class 1 All-State selection in the process, giving any opposing player she faces fits with her clutch 3-pointers and in-your-face defense.

“I’ve always had to make [big plays],” Nichols said. “When I played at Oran when I was real little before I transferred here, I was the only one that could handle the ball,” she laughed. “Delta was our biggest enemy when I was in junior high, and Coach [David] Heeb was their coach.

“He’d always be like, ‘You cannot let her get the ball.’ We always practice big situations on what and what not to do. But playing thousands of games over your career starting from third grade, you just kind of get that mentality.”

This was absolutely the case when the Bobcats hosted Class 2 Principia out of St. Louis, which has one of the best freshman in Missouri.

That would be 6-foot-1 Dasia Scott, who went on an unofficial visit to Ole Miss last month. She currently averages a double-double at 25.6 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, but Delta held her to a season-low 10 points in a 71-60 win last Tuesday afternoon at home.

Nichols, who stands at 5-6, scored eight more points than Scott at 18 in the double-digit win. Addison also knocked down two 3-pointers, delivered crisp, timely passes, came down with several rebounds and played exceptional defense with a few steals against the Panthers.

“Throughout the season, we play so many teams, and you have to play conference schools,” Addison said. “This year — no offense — but our conference was not our top competition. Coach Heeb does a great job of getting those teams all the way from Jefferson City to St. Louis.

“It’s those teams you really want to put a circle on, ‘This is what you need to prepare for. You need to watch film this night!’ For Principia, we practiced for two days focusing on [Scott]. You have to help [play defense] on her, and we did great on that.”

Scoring a game-high 21 points and also hitting two 3’s for Delta was junior guard Jade Berry, while senior forward Mya Gillespie and senior guard Presley Holweg combined for 22 points with 12 and 10, respectively.

“Against the smaller or local teams, we don’t really hype ourselves up — we play them all the time,” Addison noted. “For these games, we always come out on top. Like Park Hills, we came out 25-3 in the first quarter. We always seem to know the time to kick it in, and we always have trust in each other and faith.

“It’s a good connection to have because when you’re in those big games or trying to make game-winners, you can pass to your teammate and know she’s going to make that shot.”

Nichols believes playing a team like Principia this late in the season is crucial for postseason success since the only team that hung within 10 points of Delta last February was Park Hill Central early that month, which went on to reach the Class 4 Final Four. Meanwhile, the Bobcats fell in the Class 1 quarterfinals to Chadwick by just two points.

“[Playing good teams late] helps so much because last year we didn’t really get that,” Addison said. “We had a lot of the small teams that we play that you just beat by 100. My sophomore year, we stacked up with great teams before the postseason, and my freshman year we got beat by South Iron by two. … It kind of gives you a boost of confidence that we’re going to come out and beat them pretty big.”

The Bobcats had one more regular-season game last week against Advance on Thursday at home, coming up with a 102-31 victory on Senior Night. With the win, the Bobcats finish the regular season nearly perfect at 25-1 overall with their only loss coming to out-of-state McCracken County (Kentucky) last month.

Delta’s perfect record against Missouri teams included some impressive victories like against Class 4 Park Hills Central (20-3), Class 3 Saxony Lutheran (16-8) and Class 2 Portageville (19-5) and Principia (18-7).

The Bobcats also won the First State Community Bank Holiday Classic and Scott-Miss Conference Tournament championships and hope to five-peat as Class 1 District 1 Champions Friday.

Two seasons ago was the last time Delta only suffered one loss in the regular season, which was the same year the Bobcats made it all the way to the Class 1 state title game.

“It actually gives me deja vu because we technically went undefeated [in the regular season] my sophomore year,” Addison said. “Notre Dame beat us one time, but then we beat them on our home court and went to state that year. It just makes me think this is our year again.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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