On Guards: Nichols enters year two with senior leaders, solid guard play and emerging bigs

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By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Making it Regionals for the first time in nearly a decade was a nice way to finish the 2020-21 season for the Millington Lady Trojans. 

Entering his second season as head coach of the Millington, Jason Nichols is ready for his program to take another step forward and reach the “Glass House” also known as the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro. 

“We’ve been in the offseason grinding with the weight room, football field, running the neighborhood and on the track getting better,” he recalled. “New league, I am anxious to see how we are going to fair in it. You can’t count Raleigh-Egypt out. You can’t count Craigmont out and you can’t count Bolton out. And then there is the Goliath up there in Fayette-Ware.”

In their former league, Fayette-Ware and Millington quickly became rivals with the Lady Wildcats having the edge in 2020-21. 

Now with a quartet of senior guards, Nichols is ready to provide a stronger challenge for the No. 1 spot in district. 

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“I have a hungry senior corps. and I might have the best four guards this side of 51,” he declared. “You start with four-year starter Micaiah Halliburton and four-year starter Jontavia Bonner. You throw in senior and two-year starter Keria McGhee. And hands down the best transfer guard in the city Kalia Dotson from Memphis Overton. 

“She was at Whitehaven her ninth grader year,” Nichols continued. “She’s just been around basketball her entire life and is really crafty with that basketball. We’re expecting Ms. Dotson to get McGhee, Halliburton, Bonner and the rest of the players in their spots with the basketball.”

The Lady Trojans will be in attack mode the entire 32 minutes of action. 

“We’re going to rely on our speed and defense,” Nichols said. “We’re going to try to turn you over as much as possible. We’re going to try to press you until we can’t press you anymore.”

Before the summer incoming sophomore Bailey Boone was going to be a huge part of that defense leading to the offense equation playing in the post. 

“I lost my All-Metro four Bailey Boone to an ACL,” he lamented. “Which is us taking a big hit. So we’re going to be a post by committee with senior Savannah Spearman and junior McKenzie Chambers and Madison Turner. I call her my wildcard in senior Erin Alexander coming from Seattle, Wash. I am expecting big things out of her.”

Nichols said the X-factor for his team will be a do-it-all ninth grader. 

“I got something nobody is going to expect. I have another hungry freshman in Aryanna Ransom,” he said. “She stands about 5’10, 5’11. She gets it done on both ends. Then you have Aubrey Young and Brie Hosly. You can’t just key in on one person. We bring it in all kinds of ways.”

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Nichols said he expects consistent outside shooting from Bonner, Halliburton, McGhee and Dotson. They all know how to finish at the rim as well. If the pieces fall into place, Nichols feels he has the talent to be playing into March. 

“That’s the goal we’ve been hollering since the summer,” he concluded. “We’re trying to get them to Murfreesboro to the “Glass House.” I told them I was blessed to go three years with Manassas. I know the Double-A league which is the new Triple-A league now. We have to keep getting better. Get my post up to par and the more they get better it’s going to be a long night for some people.” 

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