When it comes to basketball, Sulphur coach Toby Todd can safely say he's seen his fair share of the best Oklahoma has to offer.
A year ago, his Bulldogs squad topped eventual state champion Millwood as part of a state semifinal berth. This season, Sulphur entered the season ranked No. 1 in the state and little has changed for the Bulldogs in the opening month of the season en route to the team's current 11-0 record.
The shuffle behind Todd and Sulphur in the rankings, however, has brought two very familiar challengers to the forefront.
Crashing into the top 10 has been fellow Lake Country Conference foes Plainview (No. 6, 12-2) and Tishomingo (No. 7, 10-3), the first time in recent recollection that three teams from the area were simultaneously in the top 10.
"We've always had a tough conference year in and year out," Todd said. "But having three teams in the top 10 is rare."
While Sulphur is a team structured around experience and a senior-laden roster, Plainview and Tishomingo are teams built around talented youth and a bevy of contributors.
Plainview has certainly been a revelation thus far in the year, with impact freshmen Rebecca Wright and Megan Shelton playing like seasoned veterans. However, coach Andy Bloodworth is insistent that credit be fully given to his two senior leaders, Taryn Callender and Jourdan Weatherford, for making the rise of his youth possible.
"An enormous amount of credit goes out to these seniors," Bloodworth said. "This is their team, and they've opened up their arms to welcome these younger players in."
It is a similar story in Tishomingo, where coach Boyd Houser relies on a rotation of eight to nine players almost every night, the majority of which are sophomores and juniors. But the leadership is never in question, thanks to seniors Mariah Gunter and Ashley Kucera.
"What they have done is so important, considering how young most of our team is," Houser said. "Those two have shown really good leadership."
What it will lead to, over the next few weeks, is some high-powered contests in LCC play.
Tishomingo and Plainview have already faced each other once this season, with Plainview earning a 49-37 win at home, but that was just the beginning.
Bloodworth and Plainview must travel past to Sulphur on Tuesday for a matchup with the top-ranked Bulldogs at home.
Two weeks after that, on Feb. 5, Tishomingo will host Sulphur, to get its shot at unseating No. 1 from its perch, something Todd reminds his players about.
"I feel like that's my biggest job, to keep them focused," Todd said. "Sometimes they get tired of me harping on the fact, but that's what we have to do."
After all, he says, there is always somebody ready to take over. Even those who are right down the road.
Page 2 of 2 - "(Plainview and Tishomingo) are both very good, well-rounded teams," Todd said. "That's why they're in the top 10."