Former foes may meet up in D-II tourney

Published March 9, 2007

Jamaal Galloway and Mychal Nichols used to face off against each other when they played high school ball in Citrus County.

Now their college basketball teams - Armstrong Atlantic and Eckerd, respectively - are on opposite sides of the NCAA Division II bracket. They could meet again, but only in the March 24 title game.

The first-round games tip off Saturday, and both teams have difficult paths.

No. 6 Eckerd 25-5 tips off at noon against No. 3 Benedict (25-4) at Montevallo, Ala.

Nichols, a Lecanto graduate who suffered a concussion earlier this season, has been a role player in practice for Eckerd. The freshman, who averaged 2.4 points and shot 43 percent from 3-point range in eight games, initially had to adjust to getting his shot off quicker because of the speed of the game. He also improved his defense. He cracks the occasional joke, but takes it as a serious challenge to make his teammates better.

After all, that puts Eckerd that much closer to "beast mode." That's a phrase senior guard Andre King-Holland bellowed one day. It stuck because of the attitude it implied. Anything less than winning the Sunshine State Conference title (Eckerd did, by the way) and playing well in the NCAA Tournament would just be unacceptable.

"With the guys we had coming back, everyone believed that if we don't win the conference, if we don't go far in the NCAA Tournament and make it to the national championship, then we didn't do much," Nichols said.

Armstrong Atlantic also has a challenging road ahead. No. 4 Armstrong Atlantic (21-8) faces off against No. 5 Wingate (22-8) at Augusta State University at 8:30 p.m.

Galloway, a Citrus graduate, is a key contributor to the Pirates and averages 10 points and 1.6 assists per game. He also led the Peach Belt Conference in made 3-pointers, making 28-of-66. He ranked second in the conference with a 86.9 free-throw percentage. He made 53 of 61.

For a copy of the NCAA Division II bracket, visit www.ncaasports.com

SOCCER SIGNING: Lecanto forward Maggie Mueller is signing today to play for Division II Clayton State in Georgia. Mueller scored 22 goals and recorded 10 assists for the Panthers this season. She tallied 89 goals and 75 assists during her four years at Lecanto.

Kellie Dixon can be reached at kdixon@sptimes.com or (352) 544-9480.