Three years ago Taylor Martin and Scott Schuette were Lexington Catholic freshmen with front-row seats on the bench in Rupp Arena, watching the Knights reach the Sweet Sixteen semifinals.
The next March, Martin and Schuette were sophomore starters for Lexington Catholic's state quarterfinal team.
"We got kind of spoiled, going to the Sweet Sixteen our first two years," Martin said. "We kind of took it for granted. We didn't think we could lose."
Reality came crashing down on the Knights the next season. Lafayette beat them in the district semifinals, denying Lexington Catholic a spot in the region for the first time in 24 years.
Martin said it was a "wake-up call."
It was more like a call to arms.
Martin, Schuette and fellow senior starter Seth Beckham (who sat out his sophomore year after transferring from Bryan Station), approached this season with renewed determination.
"They're competitive kids who've always been able to handle adversity and stand strong," Coach Brandon Salsman said. "I knew they'd have a tremendous senior year."
Sure enough, Martin, Schuette and Beckham led Lexington Catholic back to the promised land of the Sweet Sixteen.
The Knights will play Dixie Heights on Wednesday night in the first round of the state tournament in Rupp Arena.
Martin and Schuette were not only part of the first Lexington Catholic teams to win back-to-back region titles, they've trumped that by being the first in school history to get to the Sweet Sixteen three times in four years.
That's saying something considering the great teams and players Danny Haney had in the 1990s and early 2000s.
"I've told them they're definitely in the conversation of being one of the best groups to ever come through Lexington Catholic," Salsman said.
"They've been part of a final four and final eight in the state. The one thing that's eluded them is a state championship. If they get that this week, all of the great Catholic teams of the past will have to look up to these guys."
Not many people saw this team getting this far.
Last summer the Knights were in disarray.
Jaylen Beckham, Seth's younger brother who was rated the top sophomore in the state, left Lexington Catholic to attend a prep school.
Larry Morton, who sat out the previous year after transferring from Paul Laurence Dunbar, transferred again, this time to Bryan Station.
Martin didn't play off-season basketball. Looking toward his future as a college baseball player (he signed with Kentucky last fall), he worked on his strength and conditioning instead.
Schuette, meanwhile, was sidelined by a broken wrist.
The Lexington Catholic basketball team people saw last summer didn't strike fear into the hearts of anybody.
"People were definitely underestimating us," Schuette said. "We didn't listen to it. We just kept it in our back pocket. That's what made us play hard every game."
Salsman, ever the optimist, never doubted the Knights.
"When we started practice on Oct. 15 and I saw what we had, I knew we were capable of getting things done."
Before tournament time arrived, Salsman called on Haney, for whom he played and coached under, to give the team one last push.
Haney, who now works in Florida, was in town for a ceremony to have Lexington Catholic's gym floor named after him before the regular-season finale against Wayne County.
Salsman said he had to twist his mentor's arm to get him to talk to the team, but he finally did.
"He told them, 'Guys, we don't want to just win region championships here, we want to win state championships, and you've got what it takes to win it all. Do you really want to do it?'"
Nobody answered "Yes!" more emphatically than Martin and Schuette.