SPRINGER — They can't stop talking about it: the opportunity to go to state.

Granted it's a few major steps away for Springer, but the boys bring up their prospects every day, be it in the classroom, the hallway or in practice.

"It seems like every time you go in the store or something, you always hear somebody talking about it," senior center Chase Satterwhite said. "It just gives you that much more motivation to go farther and farther."

It's on their minds, and for good reason. The Cardinals (22-3) are ranked 15th in a Class B field that coach Robert Bradley said is wide open.

"This group, they've got the character, the motivation, and they sure have the talent to make the state tournament," Bradley said.

With a 62-36 blowout of Tupelo on Saturday, it was the first time for Springer's boys to advance to the regional tournament as a district champion in decades. The boys team went to regionals last season, but as district runner-up.

Coleman, ranked 13th in Class B, will be one of Springer's biggest tests of the season. The Wildcats (21-4) trot out one of the top inside games in the state.

"The way we're playing, I think we can overcome it," Bradley said of Coleman's inside game. "They've got to play games like this to make state."

In the Cardinals' favor Thursday is a six-game winning streak and the knowledge that they can hang with any team they play in the regional round. Satterwhite and fellow senior Quan Brown said the Cardinals beat Coleman in a scrimmage in the summer, while Bradley added that Springer was able to hang with potential regional finalist Big Pasture in a scrimmage before the season.

Springer's top three scorers — Tristan Rogers, Satterwhite and Brown — are each averaging between 13 and 15 points per game, pushing a ball at a tempo the Cardinals believe can take Coleman out of its half-court game.

Springer will also try to nullify Coleman with Satterwhite and Rogers inside. Satterwhite is 6-4, while Rogers, a sophomore, measures at 6-3. The Cardinals have the height to battle with Coleman, but Bradley and the boys know their success will come in transition.

"Both of those young men are playing their best ball right now," Bradley said. "They're aggressive on the boards and we're hard to stop down low once we get both of them going."

There haven't been many instances this season where Springer has been caught off guard. Brown admitted that the Cardinals have gotten off to slow starts in the first quarter of games, but two of Springer's three losses this season have been by four points or less.

Even when they haven't played their best, the Cardinals have been really good. So good, that the conversation can't help but gravitate back to that dream of state. Both Brown and Satterwhite said they feel the Cardinals have worked hard enough to make the state tournament.

This week, they can test their feelings yet again.

"Everybody's got the same state of mind this year," Satterwhite said. ""We're trying to go as far as we can."

Erik K. Horne