Nicholas carving own path for Eastern
- Broguen Nicholas has played varsity all four years at Eastern York.
- He eclipsed the 1,000 point mark as a junior last season.
- He committed to play basketball and study business at Shippensburg University, beginning next fall.
Every time Broguen Nicholas steps inside the gym at Eastern York High School, he's reminded of the legacy that his family members left behind.
Hanging on a banner behind one of the baskets is the name of his cousin, Andrew Nicholas, recognizing him for the accomplishments he achieved during the 2009-2010 season.
A year later, Broguen's brother, Bryton Abel, played his senior year at the school, helping the team make it back to the District 3-AAA title game and the state quarterfinals.
Before Andrew and Abel donned the Eastern York jerseys, so, too, did Ryan Nicholas, Andrew's older brother and also Broguen's cousin.
Both Nicholas brothers had memorable careers with the Golden Knights, with Ryan eventually going on to play college basketball at Messiah. Andrew followed in his footsteps, finishing with 2,504 career points at Eastern, helping the program snap a 22-year District 3-AAA title drought in 2009-10 and then playing a huge part in the team's run to the state semifinal that same year. He was eventually named first-team all-state, a reason why his name still hangs in the school gym. After moving to the area before his senior season, Abel helped the team get back to the District 3-AAA championship game in 2010-11 and make another run to the state quarterfinals.
Lump all of their success together and it created one heck of a shadow for Broguen to try to escape. However, Broguen never looked at his career as one that would be defined by how he stacked up to the family members who played before him, despite nearly everyone heaping that pressure on his shoulders.
"People put that type of pressure on me, but I never thought about it that way," Broguen said. "I just thought of me coming here to school as regular as anybody else and not being related to anybody."
Whether or not he wants to think about the comparisons, they're there. And since there's really no chance of Broguen avoiding them, he figures that he might as well try to live up the standard of the family members who came before him.
"It's fun because it's challenging," he said. "People challenge you to try to be just as good as them, so it's a challenge. I'd like to follow in their footsteps."
Making his own name: From the very beginning, it was obvious that Broguen possessed the same special skill set that made his cousins and brother so successful.
When he entered high school, he immediately factored into the varsity rotation. He came off the bench as a role player as a ninth grader, only trending upward from there.
"I think some people lose sight of the fact that to be good in this sport, you have to really work at it," Golden Knights head coach Jon Reichard said. "...It's an individual effort and drive, and he has that."
By last season, his junior year, Broguen had turned himself into a known commodity in the York-Adams League. He established himself as one of the best pure scorers in the league, eclipsing the 1,000-point mark during the season.
"I didn't really look at that as a big accomplishment," he said. "I'm more of a team accomplishment type of guy, not really individual. I'm humble about it, but it was nice."
Perhaps it's that type of humility that earned him the honor of being a team captain last season and this season, a responsibility that carries a lot of responsibility at Eastern. Reichard treats his players like adults, giving them the time and space to police themselves. Behind closed doors, when in the team locker room, Reichard says that's the players' sanctuary. The coaching staff won't try to dictate what goes on in there when the players are hanging out, so it falls into the hands of the captains to make sure that everything stays under control. So far, according to Reichard, there haven't been too many instances that would force that policy to change, a testament to the leadership that Broguen and some of the other upperclassmen have.
It's a cliché to say that someone leads by example on the court, but that's how Reichard describes Broguen. Off the court, he doesn't say a whole lot, staying about as even-keeled as he is during a game. But, as soon as the team steps on the floor, whether it be for practice or a game, he lets his play do the talking.
The growth of Broguen as a player may be evident by how easily he can take over a game. But, as a leader, it's hard to quantify that unless you study the game and have watched him play, day in and day out, over the last few years.
Reichard is one of the few people who has, seeing Broguen's role and game develop immensely since first starting to coach him as a freshman. Broguen might be known as a scorer to many (he's averaging 14.6 points per game this season), but his ability to get the rest of the team involved is what could ultimately dictate just how successful Eastern will be this season. The Golden Knights are currently 3-2 overall and 2-1 in York-Adams Division II.
"We've been having the discussion a lot and I know what he's going through," Reichard said, "because when you're not having success, or when things get rough, and the other guys aren't stepping up, he feels like he has to do it himself. But, he's gotten over those hiccups and he's been really good at ... getting them all involved."
Finishing on top: Broguen didn't want to go through his entire senior year with the burden of college lingering on his mind.
So, before the season, he committed to Shippensburg University, where he'll play basketball, beginning next fall, and study business.
With his post-high school plans already decided, the only thing on his mind now is basketball. He's all about getting the team to reach its fullest potential. Right now, that is winning the Division II race, a possible league championship and making a run in the District 3-AAA tournament and earning a berth into the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs.
"We want to go out winning every game we can," he said. "We don't want to lose any. We have goals set in each game as they come along."
It's been six years since Andrew Nicholas and that special Golden Knights team won the program's last district title and made it to the semifinals of the state tournament.
Broguen has large expectations to fulfill as the next Nicholas family member to come through Eastern York and, so far, he's lived up to the name. He's a 1,000-point scorer, he's helped get the Golden Knights to the District 3-AAA playoffs last season and will continue his basketball career in college.
Maybe one day, when he looks up at the wall inside the gym, he'll see his own name sewn onto a banner, hanging alongside his cousin's.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org