The Prosser girls have been a model of consistency over the last four seasons, making four consecutive trips to the 2A state tournament and collecting four trophies.
The Mustangs (23-1) should make it five this year, earning a spot in the 2A quarterifinals at 9 p.m. today against White River (23-6).
But as the top-ranked team in the state, this could be Prosser's best shot at a title since 1989, the school's only championship in girls basketball. Until the Mustangs actually bring a 2A title title banner back home, however, predictions mean nothing.
"Ranking don't mean anything, You just need to work hard all the time," said Prosser senior Tayshia Hunt, a forward who averages 15.2 points a game. "Defense is definitely the key (at state). Play hard the whole game and don't let up."
Hunt and fellow senior Tamara Jones have been steady influences on each of the last four state teams, including last year's Mustangs' squad that lost to River Ridge in the championship game.
But Jones, a 5-11 senior post who averages 19.8 points, admits she's had to learn a few hard lessons herself on the road to the state tournament.
"There were times I wasn't playing my best on defense, times I wasn't moving my feet," she said. "You get tired, but you just have to learn to push through everything."
Pushing through. That will be Prosser's final test this season. Assuming the Mustangs win their first game, they'll have two more games to accomplish their ultimate goal.
Are they ready?
Coach Mark Little's response was surprisingly understated, considering his team has won its last 10 games.
"I don't know. I think they are. We'll find out (today)," he said. "We've practiced well this week and played pretty well the last couple games."
Little said White River has enough talent on offense to maintain a versatile and balanced attack. Brooke Paulson leads the Hornets at 16.5 points a game, and Rani Wiegand averages 15 points and 7.5 rebounds. Sabra Sproul also averages in double figures at 10.5 points a game.
"I'm always concerned about the other team offensively. They've got some kids who can really play," Little said. "We have to take care of the basketball."
Fortunately, the Mustangs have a solid point guard in Helen Petersen, who doesn't make many mistakes and can score when needed. But mostly, her job is to help her teammates do their jobs.
"It's the ones who take care of the basketball and don't get rattled who succeed at state," Little said.