Coming into his junior season at Hickory Ridge High, Nick Hough knew he would have to become a different player for his Ragin Bulls to be as successful as they have been in the recent past.Gone was the core of that team that had won 44 games in the last three years, while posting the schools first winning seasons and reaching the playoffs. Also losing transfer Tydus Parks to A.L. Brown, Hough along with senior point guard Darius Porch knew they it was time to step up.We that a lot of guys would have to take on bigger roles this season, because of all 11 guys on the varsity (roster), none had been starters, said Hickory Ridge basketball coach Robert Machado. We expected Nick and Darius to be leaders for this team right away.Hough is being counted on to be the Bulls top scorer more often than not, and has fit into the role nicely by scoring in double figures in all but two games. He had a season-high 19 points against both East Rowan and Central Cabarrus.Hough, who averages 15 points per game, said that scoring comes naturally for him, but he has also tried to focus on the other aspects of his game. Heading into the Jan. 25 game against Central, he was averaging four rebounds, two assists and nearly two steals per game.Nick has improved in almost every phase of his game this year, Machado said. Hes really become a stat-filler for us. Sometimes its 16 points and eight rebounds, other times its six or seven assists and three steals. He has really done a better job of not just letting his offense dictate how well he plays.Machado said that Hough has also accepted the role of being a marked man, as opposing defenses usually tailor their efforts to trying to stop him. That role is something Hough said he enjoys. While the 6-foot-2 guard hadnt played that role for Hickory Ridge until this season, he does have experience being the man in AAU basketball.I really like being that guy who people focus on because you have to compete hard and you cant take a play off, Hough said.Hough and Porch have played together since fourth grade starting with the Harrisburg Cowboy recreational football team to their J.M. Fries Middle and the Hickory Ridge junior varsity basketball teams. Last year, the two were the first guards off the Bulls varsity bench.Hough averaged five points per game, while Porch scored four per game last year.This season, they have become the top two playmakers for the Bulls. Porch is averaging 12 points and seven assists. He set a school record with 13 assists against Porter Ridge.Darius and I definitely have a family feel kind of like brothers because we have been playing together for so long, Hough said. Weve really grown up together and at Hickory Ridge, and its nice to have that chemistry with someone you have to depend on to be successful.Hough and Porch, who share the Bulls backcourt with freshman Avery Metcalf, will be a big key if the Bulls (4-9, 1-5 in the South Piedmont Conference to start the year) are able to make a run in the second half of the SPC schedule.Senior D.J. Freeman and sophomore Jaylen Stowe also need to be more consistent for the Bulls.We have all had to adjust to new roles for this team, Hough said. I think everybody from guys like Darius and I to the younger guys are starting to feel comfortable. I think we are ready to make a run.Hickory Ridge needs to make every game count. They dont need to look further than the league standings for motivation.For a team used to being near the top of the SPC in the last few years, the Bulls are going to have fight to get back in upper half of the standings. Hickory Ridge does have a more favorable schedule as six of its last eight SPC games are at home.Like his team, Hough feels like he has a lot to prove. He hopes his improved play will get him on college recruiters radars. To do that, he tries to spend two to three hours a day in the gym, shooting and working on his game.For now, Hough is focused on making Hickory Ridge closes out the season well.I want to help this team be the best it can be, he said. We want to win a conference championship. We want people to remember us as the team that made Hickory Ridge an even better program.
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013
Hickory Ridge's Nick Hough steps up to be Bulls top scorer
Hickory Ridge guard Nick Hough went from being a role player to the Ragin' Bulls' main scorer. He averages 15 points per game. SERGIO TOVAR - email@example.com