SULPHUR — Sulphur basketball coach Chase Todd was pacing around the practice gym, with a stride that was deliberate, but intense.
His players matched suit on the court, running through their drills with a focus that sent a message too clear to ignore:
We aren't done yet.
"We're happy that we've been able to accomplish what we have," Todd said. "But we aren't satisfied just yet."
Sulphur (17-9) will certainly have its hands full this week, taking on Antlers in the 3A area consolation bracket, the first of three potential games the team will play.
All three will need to be wins for the Bulldogs to emerge with a state tournament berth, but it hasn't fazed Todd.
"Every year, there are four teams that come out of this side of the bracket," Todd said. "The guys all know that, and they know what's in front of them."
Overcoming adversity would certainly be nothing new. The Bulldogs have defied expectations, one at a time, all year long. They weren't expected to beat Lexington, but they did. Nobody gave them a shot against Plainview and the scrappy squad emerged from an overtime brawl with a 42-37 win.
When the time has come, the Bulldogs, more often than not, have risen to the occasion.
"At first, we felt like we were kind of the underdogs," senior Jordan Barefoot said. "But after a while, we've started to feel like we can compete with anybody, that we can beat anybody."
How does Sulphur do it? The old-fashioned way; the Bulldogs play great defense, rely on a steady group of role players and use a sharp, focused mentality to force their opponents into playing Bulldog basketball.
"I feel like, with the way we play on the defensive end, it creates problems for other teams," senior Haydn Rogers said. "We make them play our way."
Offensively, there won't be one player that routinely dominates night in and night out. One day, it could be Rogers that comes away with 16 points; sometimes it could be sharpshooter Ryan Beauchamp knocking down four treys and pacing a win.
The key is the versatility, and the team would have it no other way.
"I think we have several guys who have been shooting pretty well," Beauchamp said. "And everybody compliments each other."
It will take all of that effort, and more, for Sulphur to conquer the challenge it now faces.
But then again, it won't be the first time this team has defied its supposed destiny.
"Our goal is still the same," Todd said. "We have to win these games, but somebody has to do it.
"Why not us?"
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