Jason Bowen

People often confuse North Sand Mountain’s mascot.

For the record, NSM’s mascot is the Bison. There is no “s” at the end of it, but that’s not what people confuse about it the most.

I often hear people call NSM the “Thundering Herd.” The confusion comes from the late 1980s and early 90s, when the NSM head boys basketball coach Glen Hicks started having his team go by “Thundering Herd” instead of Bison.

“It was sort of a team thing — a group of Bison are a herd,” said Hicks, who coached NSM from 1977-1993 and 1995-2003 and is now the coach at Fort Payne after a decade-plus coaching in Georgia and Tennessee. “I did it in the early 80s, but it really caught on when we started running “The System” and were scoring all those points. Nobody knew us as the Bison then.”

When Hicks had the Bison was running that Loyola-Marymount high-tempo offense, the most pressing question at each NSM game was how many points would it score and how soon would it reach the 100-point mark. NSM once led the nation in scoring at 111 points per game.

Two-plus decades later, Hicks’ son Cole is leading a high-scoring NSM team of his own, one that’s topped the 100-point mark four times through seven games and has scored at least 88 points in each game. There isn’t a way to now for sure because not all scores are reported on the AHSAA’s C2C website, but it’s highly likely that NSM is leading the state in scoring.

Cole Hicks says his team is trying to replicate the style of play of his dad’s teams in the late 80s-early 90s. He likes this team’s ability to shoot, to score and to compete. 

“[The players] know it’s play hard or come out [of the game],” said Cole Hicks, who led North Jackson to two county titles in three seasons before going to his alma mater last season. “We’ve been shooting the ball well. They think they’re supposed to score 100 points every night. They get mad if they don’t.” 

NSM has had its ups and downs the past couple of years, winning just one game two seasons ago while finishing under .500 in a year ago in Cole Hicks’ first season.

But this group used its struggles to fuel its success, “taking those bumps and bruises and try to develop a mentality to be mentally tough and to play faster and stronger,” the coach said. 

At 6-1 entering Friday’s Class 2A Area 15 opener with rival Section, the Bison are working their way back to the program’s traditional standards.

And if this scoring pace keeps up, they might just re-earn that “Thundering Herd” moniker.

 

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