When it comes to tournament experience, expect the Colorado Springs Christian School boys' basketball team to look to freshman Justin Engesser for words of wisdom.
The 6-foot-3 Lions guard said it feels like he's lived through a few of these state tournaments over the years.
Next weekend, however, Justin will play in his first one and start the journey his dad and older brother came up painfully short in as third-seeded CSCS (19-3) hosts No.?30 Frontier Academy (12-11) in the first round of the 3A boys' state tournament.
"I have the motivation to do what (my brother and dad) didn't get to," Justin says of winning a state title.
His whole family, for starters, would be relieved if he could help the Lions do just that.
See, it's been painful for the Engessers of late. Justin's older brother Nate had his season end in a four-overtime game as a junior in 2011, and then in a stunning blowout in the quarterfinals the next year to underdog Holy Family in 2012.
His dad Mark, the third-year Lions coach, then watched his team bumble away a lead last season to lose Colorado Academy 51-49 in the round of 16.
"Our family is very competitive, so it was really tough seeing them come up short, especially with the ways they happened," Justin says. "Hopefully things will go differently."
CSCS definitely has the size to change the recent tide. Led by 6-7 sophomore Samuel Howard (averages 18.7 points and 13.1 rebounds) and 6-8 junior Nic Doherty (8.3 and 5.9) in the paint, the Lions won 17 games in a row and stayed perfect throughout the Tri-Peaks on their way to their fourth consecutive district championship.
Outside shooting hasn't been lacking either. Engesser (13.6), Chris Hildenbrand (11.3) and Coronado-transfer Dante Fewell (10.1) also boast tremendous length, as well as shooting touch, making CSCS one of the few teams that have a realistic chance at winning the 3A title this season.
"We don't really care what seed we are," Mark Engesser said Sunday. "We just have to go out there and beat everyone we face."
Colorado Springs Christian School will host first- and second-round games Friday and Saturday.