Sallisaw Lady Black Diamonds: 16-Karat Diamonds Presented By McKey Equine Hospital

At the start of every basketball season, every team’s dream is to reach the state tournament. But in reality, only eight girls basketball teams in Class 4A reach the Big House leaving the remainder of the field measuring their success.

The 2019-20 Sallisaw Lady Black Diamonds experienced the thrill of victory recording 16 wins, equaling their win count for the past two seasons and for the first time in almost a decade, the efforts of the 16 team members combined to reach the Area Tournament just steps away from the state tournament.

The question of mission accomplished is answered yes and no according to head coach Derek Barlow.

“I can’t emphasize enough how each girl on the roster bought into what we’re trying to do,” Barlow commented reflecting on his first season at the helm of the Sallisaw program. “All 16 players brought energy and positivity every day and together put team results ahead of individual stats and awards.”

With all but three seniors returning, the glimmer of the Diamonds has a definite sparkle.

“This year we asked our seniors to commit to a new way of doing things and to be leaders by example,” said Barlow. “Kasha Teehee, Kami Riggs and Taite Stites helped to raise the bar and leave a legacy for others to build upon. Each one of them and collectively made TEAM a first priority while simultaneously becoming better overall players.”

With 13 returning players all with game time experience, Barlow will look to juniors Brendly McDaniel and Kaitlyn Clifton as well as others to continue the hard work believing that results will follow.

The younger players created a real want to win and do whatever it takes environment,” Barlow said with a smile. “It was really good for us to learn what it takes to win and advance. In order to achieve our ultimate goals, we just have to go back to work.”