COLUMBIA – The Hickman boys basketball team suffered its second consecutive loss Tuesday night, this one coming at home against Ozark, 74-64.
After losing an emotional game at Rock Bridge last week, Hickman's defense struggled and was unable to slow down Ozark’s offense.
Junior Jordan Nuckolls led the Tigers with 20 points and sophomore Ryan Holmes added 16, with 12 of his points coming in the second half.
Hickman coach Ken Ash was disappointed, “We needed a team defensive effort tonight and it wasn’t there.”
On the offensive end, sophomore Marcus Witt led the Kewpies with 21 points, putting up 16 in the second half.
Senior Eric Franklin had a solid first half, scoring 14 points, but didn't score in the second half until he sank a three with under a minute left in the game.
Ozark coach Steve Hunter said he emphasized guarding Franklin during his halftime speech and his team responded.
“I thought we did a pretty nice job limiting his open looks in the second half,” Hunter said.
Ash said that’s something he just has to live with.
“He’s the focal point of everybody’s defense,” Ash said. “We live and die by it sometimes.”
Ash said his players had more to battle against than just Ozark tonight. While he didn’t say his team was still thinking about last week’s Rock Bridge loss, he did say it had lasting effects.
“I’m going to call it the Rock Bridge flu,” Ash said, “because we have a lot of sick players tonight.”
The loss moves Hickman to 12-7 with three regular-season games remaining before the district tournament. The Kewpies play again Friday when they host Logan-Rogersville.
“We’re going to take tomorrow off to let them get healthy,” Ash said, “then come back and practice hard Thursday and get ready for the game Friday.”