RICHLAND -- The Liberty Christian boys headed to Spokane on Tuesday to prepare for their fifth straight appearance at the 2B state tournament.
What Patriots coach Terry Watson hopes is that it's the only time the word "fifth" is associated with his team again.
The past two years, LC has lost its first-round game, only to roar through the consolation bracket to finish -- you guessed it -- fifth.
"Our record looks good," said Watson, whose team opens at 9 p.m. today against Colfax. "But we want to get out of that first game."
A year ago, the Patriots were paced by senior Mark Wilson, an All-Area guard who averaged 23 points per game.
This season, LC has spread the wealth among its five starters, four of whom average more than nine points.
"The reason we're 21-2 is because on any given night, you don't know who'll be our high scorer," Watson said. "They'd much rather give the ball up to their buddy first than score themselves."
Of those five starters, only senior Mike Groth saw significant minutes on last year's state team.
Watson admitted he thought this would be the proverbial rebuilding season, but the improvement of senior forward Cody Brockman changed his thinking in a hurry.
"He went nuts this year in a way I never would have imagined," Watson said of the 6-foot-3 Brockman, who averages a team-high 16.1 ppg. "I might have missed one with him last year, because he's definitely a gamer."
Brockman plays post for the Patriots, but Watson considers him more of a combo player.
"He owns the baseline," Watson said. "He attacks the basket really well."
Sophomore guard Jake Siefken averages 13.6 ppg, while junior post Bryan Corrigan (9.9 ppg) and senior guard Brett Dustin (9.2 ppg) round out the scoring quartet.
Then there's Groth, who does all the things that don't show up on a stat sheet.
"He just does all the intangibles for us," Watson said. "This is a team that I think can get to where we want to be on Saturday."
And that is not the fifth-place game.