Robert Bradley's Springer team is flying under the radar.
And they don't like it.
At 21-3, the Cardinals are among a handful of elite records in the state of Oklahoma, with the third-best mark in Class B. Nevertheless, the squad has not felt the love of the pollsters, who sit Springer at No. 17 in the state.
"We're being overlooked, I think," Bradley said. "And they want to prove everybody wrong."
Springer will have the opportunity to begin shutting critics up on Saturday, when the Cardinals face off with either Thackerville or Tupelo in the second round of Class B districts.
Springer is hosting a district for the first time in many years, an event that has caused quite a stir in the community.
"I've been at Springer for nine years, and talked to old-timers around here," Bradley said. "None of them can remember hosting districts at the school.
"Everybody is excited."
The product is well-worth the enthusiasm. Spearheaded by a group of talented seniors in Chase Satterwhite, Quan Brown, Foster Trusty and Tyler Harris, Springer is one of the deepest and most balanced teams in small-school basketball.
"I can play three guys off my bench and those guys could start if I needed them to," Bradley said. "Having 10 or 11 guys on the team that can contribute and work hard in practice is a huge gain for us."
It is one thing, Bradley says, to have a lot of talented players, and quite another for them to accept their roles and work together as a unit. Springer has not had those issues during a strong campaign.
"I've had them since fifth grade and I can't get them out of the gym," Bradley said. "They work so hard, and they know what's in front of them.
"They want state."
Should Thackerville emerge on top against Tupelo tonight, Bradley certainly will not take the squad for granted; his Cardinals escaped with a 68-66 win when the two squads played at Thackerville earlier this season.
"(Thackerville head coach Cody) McCage is a heck of a coach and he does a great job with them," Bradley said. "They've got some boys who know how to win at football, and that attitude carries over to basketball."
Cardinals peaking at right time
While the Springer girls don't quite have the same caliber of record as the boys squad, the Cardinals are looking like a formidable squad heading into the playoffs.
At 15-9, and winners of three in a row, Bradley is confident that things are coming together at just the right time for his squad.
"They're peaking at just the right time and their confidence is up," Bradley said. "They're playing their best ball right now."
The improvement has come, in large part, thanks to the leadership and tenacity of senior duo Audrey White and Brittany White.
"They're my leaders on the floor," Bradley said. "They've progressed so much this year, helping out the younger ones and it has made them so much better."
Springer will face a struggling Thackerville squad that the Cardinals have already beaten twice this season, but it won't stop Springer or Bradley from taking the game seriously.
"It's just something you can't overlook," Bradley said. "Beating a team three times is tough."