SULPHUR — Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the foundation of the Ardmore Lady Tigers basketball program.

SULPHUR — Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the foundation of the Ardmore Lady Tigers basketball program.

Over the last few years though, the success of the Lady Tigers has been hard not to notice with two appearances in the state tournament in the last three years.

However, if Ardmore is going to make it again in 2019-2020, they’ll have to do it the way they always have, through blood, sweat, tears, and hard work. 

“Everyone is going to have to come into their own over the summer,” Ardmore coach Debra Manley said. “We’re having to grow up and mature really fast. Shakira (Smith) has come into the leadership role, which helps us a lot. The summer is mainly for us to feel out who is going to be able to handle the pressure and for us to build some team chemistry.” 

Preparations for next season have been difficult this summer from the start, as senior standout Amaya Gordon hasn’t been able to participate due to leg surgery which will keep her out for an extended period of time until the season starts. 

Gordon will be an important piece when she comes back from injury as she was the second leading scorer last season for the Tigers with 11.3 points per game along with 7.2 rebounds per game. 

But in her absence, the Lady Tigers have seen returning players like Reagan McCurley, Miyah McGee, Shakira Smith, and Tiona Cohee step in for plenty of minutes on the court.

Last season McCurley finished with 7.8 points per game with 4.5 rebounds, while McGee had 6.1 points per game with 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

“A lot of these girls are still young and are just going to be juniors,” Manley said. “We’ve been playing with the bulk of our players being freshmen and sophomores. We’ve seen a lot of things that we liked, and a lot of things we need to work on the rest of the summer.”

“We’re going to have to be more aggressive attacking the rim,” Manley said. “Another thing we have to do is develop our three-point shooting. Hopefully we can find some girls that can do both for us.” 

Ardmore finished the 2018-19 season with an overall record of 23-4 and made it to the Class 5A state tournament before losing to Pryor. The Lady Tigers also achieved a No. 1 ranking in Class 5A for the first time under coach Manley during the year. 

Next week the Lady Tigers will travel to the University of Texas at Arlington for a team camp, before finishing the month of June at the Ada team camp.