For Crowder, it isn’t about the size of the army, but how they fight.
Coach Ashley Rush said the Demonettes have grown and learned so much since last season's area tournament appearance, and that has shown in the product that they put out on the floor each night despite the low number of players on the team.
"It’s been good. We’re 21-4 going into the playoffs,” Rush said. "The season is a grind. We’ve got eight kids, and at times that can be a little taxing.”
Rush is proud of how her team has matured since last year, when Crowder finished 26-4 with a Pitt 8 Championship and an appearance in the area tournament.
She spoke of last year’s playoff run and how that made an impact on her players. They’re a young team, but now that they have playoff experience, Rush feels that they can make a run at any opponent.
“That moment may have been too big for them, but now we’re ready to redeem ourselves,” Rush said. "Playoff basketball is a whole different animal. We’re not scared of that pressure, and we’re excited for the opportunity.”
They’ll get that opportunity during the district finals on Saturday night, as the Demonettes have earned a first-round bye and will face off with the winner of the Friday night game between Indianola and Wetumka.
Having one day to prepare for a single opponent may seem like a challenge, but Rush said that her team is quick to take in a large amount of game planning.
"I’ve got a group of really really smart kids,” she said. "I’m able to feed them two scouting reports at a time and they’re able to decipher the information.”
The goal for the team is to make it into the state tournament, and to do that, Rush said her team will rely on what it has done all season: a high-powered offense coupled with a staunch defense.
“At our low numbers, we had to learn how to still be Crowder basketball. You’ve got to learn to channel that aggression while being smart at the same time,” Rush said. “The best teams are balanced. That’s the beauty of our team.”
The playoffs are a long, arduous road. But the Demonettes have the advantage of being district hosts, which Rush has said is a wonderful blessing. She is happy they get to have one more game in front of a home crowd.
But when the big moment comes, Rush knows her team will be ready. She is proud of the people and players they have become, and is excited to be on this journey with them.
"I’m just pumped to watch them write their story with this,” Rush said. "These are times that they’ll remember forever."
Here is a complete list of game times and dates:
DISTRICT 7 AT KINTA
Bokoshe vs. Midway, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Kinta, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
DISTRICT 8 AT MOYERS
Moyers vs. Mill Creek, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Pittsburg, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
DISTRICT 5 AT OKAY
Stuart vs. Cave Springs, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Okay, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
DISTRICT 6 AT KIOWA
Arkoma vs. Keota, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Kiowa, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
DISTRICT 8 AT CAMERON
Clayton vs. Cameron, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Red Oak, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
DISTRICT 4 AT CROWDER
Indianola vs. Wetumka, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Crowder, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
DISTRICT 5 AT QUINTON
Quinton vs. Webbers Falls, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Porum, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
DISTRICT 8 AT ROFF
Haileyville vs. Roff, Feb. 14 6:30 p.m.
Winner vs. Strother, Feb. 15 6:30 p.m.
Contact Derek Hatridge at email@example.com