They got to the state tournament last year. Now the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears are looking to go a little bit further.

And with the experience they have returning, coach Harold Treadway believes his Lady Bears can not only get to the 2013 state tourney, but can make some noise.

"I think we can," Treadway said.

A loss to top-seeded Shiloh Christian last season left the Lady Bears wanting more.

"They were a good team," Treadway said of the Lady Saints. "It was a learning experience for us."

Three seniors and five juniors are coming back from that "learning experience" and hope to build.

Ashton Williams, and Jordie Flippo have been on the team since they were sophomores. The leadership triad completes with Shelby Simpkins. Add juniors Brooke Rainey, Karley Walton, Alisa Staton, Jamia Wilson and Jessica Scott into the mix and Treadway believes he’s got a solid team to work with.

"I feel like we are further along now than we were at this time last year, no doubt," Treadway said.

Treadway even has something he hasn’t had in years — a plus back row. Abby Cantrell, a transfer from E-Stem in Little Rock transferred in and Treadway gave her a tryout.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Treadway said.

Putting Cantrell back with Willis could give his club some extra defensive help to go along with a solid front line of hitters.

"That’s the hope," Treadway said.

The Lady Bears have worked out every Tuesday and Thursday since Independence Day and began preseason work with their version of Midnight Madness on Sunday night.

"We did it last season," Treadway said, "and the girls wanted to bring it back.

Treadway said it was a team bonding experience with food and fellowship among team members. Practice began at 12 a.m. and lasted until 3. Treadway, however, had the girls stay until seven.

"By then, sleep is out of the question," Treadway said jokingly. "They cleaned up the food and just bonded."

Team cohesion to go along with the existing pieces the Lady Bears possess will serve them well in a league still loaded at the top with Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy.

Treadway may have the team he needs to put some anxiety into the two 5A-Central perennials.

"If we split with them, and sweep the ones we are supposed to, we’ll have a nice spot in the state tournament," Treadway said.

An even greater spot would be playing in the first Saturday in November.