SPRINGER — Audrey and Brittany White have shared a bond for the longest time — on and off the court.
Behind the senior duo, Springer (16-10) has advanced to the Class B regional tournament for the first time in Robert Bradley's tenure as coach. He's thankful for every day he has left with the two players that may be relied on more than any other tandem in the area.
Alongside the Whites, Springer suits up a collection of sophomores and freshmen.
"With both of them going, and the other three or four feeding off of them ... their leadership is the main key to it," Bradley said.
The Cardinals, ranked 20th in Class B, drew host Coleman in the first round of the regionals. It's a win-or-go home scenario that the Whites, who are not related, have been looking forward to for four years.
Starters since their freshman seasons, Audrey and Brittany — friends since the third grade — have waited their entire high school careers for just a glimpse at the postseason beyond district play.
Or beyond the first game of district, for that matter. Springer's 53-27 victory over Thackerville last week was the Cardinal girls' first win in district in some time.
"If the girls can just keep their head on and play their game, we should be playing on Friday," Bradley said. "My two seniors, this is their last go around, so it's do or die for them."
Brittany White, 5-foot-7, is the point guard, averaging about 15 points a game, while Audrey, 5-9, is the Cardinals' top post player, averaging 19 points. The two said that their friendship is evident in their play.
"It's in the moment. We deal together and we do it," Audrey said of the Whites' on-court chemistry. "Not just basketball, but life, in general, has brought us together."
"I give her a wink and she knows," Brittany said. "Me and Audrey have been together the whole time. I've seen her get way better, and me also.
While Springer is reliant on the Whites to facilitate much of what they do, the rest of the Cardinals have come around as the year's progressed. Without much experience or many threats from 3-point range, the Cardinals have succeeded through a 3-2 zone that makes it tough on opponents to score.
"We kinda make them beat us up top," Bradley said. "With Ingram and Audrey down low, it's more of a 'one shot' and either one of them has to rebound."
Typically, the rebound falls to Audrey White, who's averaging around 13 boards per game.
"She's the best at it," Brittany said of Audrey's rebounding.
Maybe only Bradley knows the Whites as well as they know each other. Both players filled in the blanks for each other when asked about their top attributes — rebounding for Audrey, ballhandling for Brittany.
The girls had even more to say about the changes they've experienced since their freshman year. They've gone from learners to leaders, embracing role-model status for a team they say is more unified than any they've played on at Springer.
"It's cool that we were the ones that learned, and now we're the ones that have achieved," Audrey said.
Bradley agreed on the togetherness of his team, attributing that to the Whites. He called them two of the best he's had as Cardinals coach.
"She's a leader and she's overcome a lot," Bradley said of Brittany. "Her demeanor, she's a very responsible girl. And (Audrey) is hard to stop. She's one of the top post girls in Class B.
"They see it. The end is near. There's no doubt that they can win three games and make it to area. They know that."
Erik K. Horne