DAVIS — They've been called a darkhorse. Underdog. Longshot.
Davis has heard all of the names from across the basketball landscape. As one of the biggest surprises left standing in the Class 3A playoffs, the Wolves (17-7) have seemingly caught everybody off guard in the past month, winning 12 of 14 to close the season, including two wins over top 10 Tishomingo, en route to an area tournament berth.
"I think we only made it into the top 20 this past week," coach Jeff Brown said. "But these girls are winners, they want to win."
The team is a great story; the product of Brown, in his first year at Davis and the fourth head coach in two years at the program, and a group of players, led by senior Kendal Rogers, that many thought would suffer with the loss of a talented senior class from a year ago.
"There were a lot of good players on this team that nobody noticed," Rogers said. "But we knew what we had."
So, too, did Brown, who did a great job of not only identifying the caliber of players he had, but creating a finally stable environment for them to develop cohesion.
"This group has banded together really well," Brown said. "And these girls are to the point now where they believe in themselves and what they've accomplished, but they don't want it to be over."
Rogers, for her part, is not ready for this season to end. It will be an uphill battle for Davis, who will need to win three consecutive games, beginning with a contest against Atoka today.
To do so, the Wolves will rely on the tough and tenacious defensive performances that have characterized the team's run this year.
"We preach that every day," Brown said. "If we play as hard as we can on the defensive end, no matter how good or bad we shoot the ball, we have a chance that day."
The numbers have born this out, with Davis surrendering 50 points or more in just one of its last nine contests.
"We have a lot of young players, and you can never mess up defense if you work hard," Rogers said.
The task will be tough regardless. Davis faces an Atoka team with speed, size and fresh off a loss to top-ranked Sulphur where the Wampus Cats gave the Bulldogs everything they could handle for a half.
But facing a few doubters certainly won't be new for the Wolves.
"We want to go to state," Rogers said. "That's our goal and has been since the beginning of the season."
"No team has ever done that here, so we want to accomplish that."
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