SULPHUR — While most teams might be satisfied or even hang their hats after obtaining a state tournament berth for the first time in six years, this isn’t the case for the Sulphur Lady Bulldogs basketball program.

SULPHUR — While most teams might be satisfied or even hang their hats after obtaining a state tournament berth for the first time in six years, this isn’t the case for the Sulphur Lady Bulldogs basketball program.

In fact, they’ve already moved on from talking about last season.

This week the Lady Bulldogs and veteran head coach Toby Todd have been hard at work hosting multiple teams during their annual team camp, which took place across Sulphur High School and at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf.

For the Lady Bulldogs, it was a chance to build chemistry for a squad that will be returning multiple starters next season, as well as adding some new faces to the mix. 

“We haven’t had a lot of time to put offenses or defenses in since it’s so early,” Todd said. “The biggest thing is just seeing where everyone is going to fit as far as their roles are concerned. Obviously from year to year people step up, and their roles on the team change. I can say that I’m very pleased with the effort and the attitude, which are two things we can control right now.” 

Last season, the Lady Bulldogs got off to a stellar start, winning 17 straight games before falling in the championship game of the Heart of Oklahoma tournament to Anadarko.

Sulphur eventually finished the season 25-3 overall, but did manage to win a district, regional and area championship along the way, as well as three-peating as winners of the Madill Winter Classic, and winning the Charles K. Heatley Memorial Tournament in Lindsay.

However, the road came to a sudden end in the state quarterfinals for Sulphur, where they were defeated by eventual 3A state champion Adair, ending their first state tournament run since 2013.

In graduation, the Lady Bulldogs lost All-State standout Payton Row, who averaged 16 points per game and was selected as an OGBCA and OCA All-State selection, as well as the All-Ardmoreite Girls Basketball Offensive Player of the Year. 

However, one of the important pieces returning next season will be Payton James, who finished as the 2018-19 All-Ardmoreite Girls Basketball Defensive Player of the Year, after finishing with 52 steals and 46 deflections for the season while grabbing 64 rebounds to go with 120 assists. 

Also returning next season will be second-leading scorer Abby Beck, who finished with 247 points for the season last year.

She led the Lady Bulldogs with 149 rebounds for the season, while totaling 30 steals, 23 deflections, 11 assists and 10 blocks.

Beck will be joined by other returning players Makella Mobly, Harley Beesley, Paisley Runyan, Meredith Jones, Kinlee Duck, and Kady Lynch. 

There will be a couple of new faces this season, as softball and track standout McKenzie Ruth will be joining the Lady Bulldogs, along with Korie Allensworth, whose father Jason was a successful coach for the Empire Lady Bulldogs in Class A girls basketball. 

“Payton (Row) was a great player, there’s no question about that,” Todd said. “We’re definitely going to miss her. But at the same time we have five to six seniors who have been in big ball games and have that experience. They all perform at a high level in softball and track as well, so that’s a huge advantage since they know what it’s like to perform in high pressure situations.”

“We’re really focusing on team chemistry right now,” Todd said. “Korie Allensworth is going to be a great addition to this team, as well as McKenzie Ruth. Ruth is a state champion in the 300 hurdles and is a tremendous athlete. We’ve got so many athletes coming back, and we’re just going to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for us during the summer.”