Tuttle will have two representatives at the All State Large West Basketball game Wednesday, July 26 at 7 p .m., at Sapulpa High School’s Chieftain Center.
Tuttle senior Landry Allen, an OU commit, was chosen to compete against the East, and Tuttle Head Coach Jamie Combs has been selected to lead the All State team.
Accustomed to competing with the best, Allen was part of Tuttle’s 2021 team that won the state championship, the 2020 team that made the state tournament just before COVID shut the season down, the 2022 team that made the state finals, and the Lady Tigers’ most recent 2023 season where they were edged out in the semifinals of the state tournament.
Despite a reputation for excellence, Allen said the pressure never really got to her.
“Coming into the season, I didn’t necessarily have a ton of pressure but more of ambition and excitement. It was more of just having fun and playing rather than keeping the top-ranked spot like it has been the past couple years. All of my teammates attributed to the success that not only me, but all of us accomplished together this year. We had to not only rebuild a starting lineup but we also had to get used to a new coaching style together.”
Allen shared her favorite memory, and what she plans to study at the University of Oklahoma. “My favorite memory was singing and dancing on the bus coming back from a far away game, and our coaches were laughing and singing with us,” Allen said. “I’m planning on majoring in something regarding education. Having come from a family of teachers and coaches, I feel as if I need to follow the passion of helping others.”
In June 2022, Coach Combs took over the Lady Tigers from Brian Lester, who led the program for nine years before taking an Assistant Director position with the OSSAA. Lester took the team from an 8-13 team his first season in 2013-2014, to a perennial title contender.
Combs answered the call, and not only led the team to the state tournament, but is being recognized by her peers as one of the best coaches in the state.
The Lady Tigers finished 26-3 on the season, including a 19-game win streak.
Coach Combs attributes much of her success to Coach Lester, the players, and her assistant coach Carla Ballard.
She said Tuesday, April 18, “I knew when I took this job the success this program has had over the last few years. Coach Lester was always going to be a tough act to follow. He was a great coach and person and he left our program in great shape for whomever came after him. I just wanted to come in and keep the tradition alive while still putting my own stamp on the program. The girls made it easy. They bought into what Coach Ballard and I brought to them; they set goals and came ready to work daily to achieve them. While others may look at our record as our biggest achievement this season, I am more proud of the growth I saw in each and every player in our program, both as basketball players and as young ladies. That individual growth is what led to our team success, and we will continue to strengthen and develop that culture throughout all levels so that we can sustain the success we experienced this year.
“First, I have to recognize the girls in our program, and then my assistant coach, Carla Ballard. The girls’ work ethic, combined with their talent, created a situation where we were capable of achieving some great things and having fun at the same time. Coach Ballard was my right-hand person, whether it was watching film and scouting, running drills and working with post players in practice, or just being the person to bounce ideas off of…without her, we would never have made it as far as we did. Finally, our Tuttle community was incredible to us. From all of the fans who came out to support us, to our Booster Club members and officers who did so much extra for the team, to our administrative and faculty supporters…I am so grateful for their time and efforts as they were a huge part of our success this season.”
Sharing her favorite memories from the season, Coach Combs said in an email, “Some of my favorite memories this season actually came outside of game time. While I will always cherish making the state tournament and getting to coach in the Big House for the first time, I loved watching our team grow together and truly become family during tough weight room sessions, tough (but fun) practices, and all of the extra events outside of games we did like our Team Lock-In, team dinners, and post-game water celebrations:)”
As far as what she expects from Allen at the next level, the coach said, “I believe Landry will go as far as she wants to at the next level of basketball and of life. She has the talent and athletic ability to be great at OU, and I know she will put the work in to get where she wants to go. She loves the game and really grew as a competitor and a leader this year and I can’t wait to go watch her achieve more big things at the next level! She is so humble and kind and while I am excited to keep watching her basketball career, I am even more excited to see her achieve great things in other aspects of her life.”