Player Preview: Ripley’s Nichols stronger than ever
By JOE ALBRIGHT Josephpalbright3@gmail.com RIPLEY – Better. Faster. Stronger. One of Class AAA’s best shooters will be even harder to stop when the season begins in a few weeks. Ripley’s Sophie Nichols Sophie Nichols 5'11" | SG Ripley | 2024…
By JOE ALBRIGHT
RIPLEY – Better. Faster. Stronger.
One of Class AAA’s best shooters will be even harder to stop when the season begins in a few weeks.
Ripley’sreturns to the court as a stronger shooter and a driver, thanks to a heavy training regimen. The regimen transformed her into a stronger downhill driver, one capable of breaking through the double teams likely heading her way in multiple games.
Nichols made the change following a spring of basketball with the W.Va. Thunder where she quickly tired of being pushed around on drives to the basket.
“I got beat up and I knew that was my weakness and I needed to work on it,” she said Sunday during her signing ceremony.
In order to better her game and herself, Sophie increased her twice-a-week workouts with assistant head coach Scotti Ullom to four times a week. “I focused on going in and getting an hour’s worth of hard time done in the weight room,” she said. “In my freshman year, I would only lift so many pounds but I upped my weights.”
As a result, she says her legs are a lot stronger and she is able to hold contact more and play stronger defense with just the build from her legs. “I was getting knocked off too much on the drive and would just get plowed off but now I am going up with two legs and finishing with two legs and making the shot and getting the and one,” she said.
Nichols isn’t the only member of the Vikings who sees her improvement. Head coach John Kennedy says her additional strength was evident to him from the beginning of summer ball.
“She’s finishing a lot more around the rim with a lot more confidence,” he said. “She’s just coming into the great player that she is and is coming into playing on both ends of the floor. I can see a difference in her for sure.”
Nichols comes into the season fresh off a second-straight appearance in the prepgirlshoopswv.com and W.Va. Sports Writers Association’s Class AAA All-State First Team. Last season, she averaged 17.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 seals, along with 1.3 blocks, while she drained a team-high 71 three-point shots.
Nichols expects her numbers will draw additional attention to her this season, but the creation of a little depth for the Vikings, on top of her improvements, will make things a little different for potential double teams.
“Honestly, we have Erin (Ryan) and Morgan shooting and they play on top and I can go around and pass off to Morgan or Erin if I drive in or if they back off me, I can shoot the shot,” she said. “If someone pulls in tight on me, I don’t have to pass the ball. I can make a move and I will not be letting someone take me out of the game.”
Nichols stands 317 points away from becoming the school’s all-time record holder – a mark that has held up since 1985.
The Vikings and Nichols open the season against Philip Barbour at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 2.