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River Ridge senior drains five 3P, scores 23 in win over Shullsburg
River Ridge senior Lance Nichols challenges a shot during the Timberwolves season-opening victory at Potosi Dec. 3. Last Friday night, Nichols made five 3-pointers and scored a game- and career-high 23 points, and blocked four shots in a 59–47 Six Rivers West victory over visiting Shullsburg. - photo by Jason Nihles

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

Lance Nichols, Sr., F, River Ridge boys basketball
River Ridge senior Lance Nichols was feeling it Friday night. The 6-foot-8 senior big man connected on 5 of 10 3-point attempts and scored a game- and career-high 23 points to lead the first-place Timberwolves to a 59–47 Six Rivers West victory over visiting Shullsburg (2–1, 2–1 Six Rivers West). Nichols made also made all six of his free throw attempts, and added seven rebounds and a team-high four blocks as River Ridge improved to 3–0 overall and 2–0 league play to take sole possession of first place early in the season. 

Nichols had 15 points and eight boards in a 46–38 non-conference win over visiting Seneca last Monday night, Dec. 7. Nichols is now averaging a team-best 16 points, and a team-high 8.3 rebounds, while also shooting 45 percent (9 of 20) on 3-pointer and 81.9 percent (9 of 11) from the free throw line. Nichols and the T'Wolves will look to keep the momentum rolling for coach Tom Neises' team in conference games Thursday at Belmont and Monday at Highland.

HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Rex Blaine, So., F,  Benton boys basketball
Blaine poured in a career-high 26 points on 10 of 18 from the field, including 5 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc, and grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds to help Benton vanquish visiting Highland 73–67 in a Six Rivers West game last Friday night. He then finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds in a 66–43 win at Pecatonica Tuesday night to help the Zephyrs improve to 2–1 on the season.

Brayden Dailey, Sr., F, Cuba City boys basketball
Dailey scored a game-high 31 points on 14 of 22 shooting, and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to lead Cuba City to a dominating 80–44 victory over his former team, Mineral Point, in the Cubans 2020–21 season-opener. Cuba City's season was delayed to the coronavirus. The Cubans had not played since they defeated SWAL rival Darlington in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal March 12. A day later the rest of the 2019–20 WIAA tournament series was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brandon Hoppman, Sr., G, Shullsburg boys basketball
Hoppman scored a game-high 24 points, to go with seven rebounds and five assists to lead the Miners (2–1, 2–1 SRW) to a 55–45 victory over Shullsburg Monday night. He also had 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a 59–47 loss at River Ridge last Friday night.

Peerson Kephart, Jr., G, Southwestern boys basketball
Kephart scored a game-high 35 points to lead the Wildcats to a commanding 73–37 non-conference victory at Cassville Saturday.

Kiley Kelly, Sr., G, Lancaster girls basketball
Kelly made five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 21 points, and grabbed nine rebounds to lead undefeated Lancaster (9–0) to a 71–63 victory over visiting Cuba City Saturday night. Kelly also had 14 points and four steals in the Flying Arrows' 57–37 win at Belmont. Kelly is averaging a SWC-best 15.9 points through seven games this year.

Tess Johnson, Sr., G, Riverdale girls basketball
Johnson scored a game-high 33 points in the Chieftains' 81–65 victory at Southwestern Tuesday night. She also scored 13 in a 56–45 loss at Mineral Point last Friday night. Johnson is averaging 19.8 points through five games for Riverdale (3–2, 2–1 SWAL).