For the Lincoln girls, the time is now as the Patriots' "Big 3" enter their senior season with a Class AA state basketball title on their mind.
The trio of 5-foot-7 point guard Darby Huginin, 6-0 center Cera Ledbetter and 5-9 forward Mica Standing Soldier have guided the Pats since their sophomore year, but have had their fingerprints on the program for much longer.
"You could tell they were going to be a good group coming up," said Lincoln coach Lyle Pearson, who guided the team to a 12-10 record last season. "They've got a lot of experience, and hopefully that will all pay off for a good year."
Each senior brings her own skillset to the team as well. Huginin, a Creighton soccer recruit, is among the speedier players in 'AA', making her a difficult ball handler to press and contain. She averaged 11 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while also leading the team in assists and steals.
Ledbetter (11 ppg, 8.5 rpg) possesses strength inside, and Standing Soldier's shooting touch, especially from 3-point range (36 percent last season), give Lincoln a variety of scoring options.
Junior post Emilee Pierson, who worked her way into a starting role during the second half of last season, will also help anchor the interior while the final starting guard position is up for grabs among four players.
While not having a solidified fifth starter might come off as a negative, Pearson suggests its more of a testament to the Patriots' depth - something the team hasn't had much of in recent years.
"For the first time since I've had girls, we've got people on the bench that we can put in to play," he said. "I've tried to get by with six, seven girls, and it's hard. You compromise a lot when you do that. We think we have positional depth to where we can get somebody in for every spot."
Senior guard Shelby Merritt, senior forward Lauren Metzger and junior guard Lexi Hamiel also saw time last season and will be looked at for contributions as Lincoln works toward its second postseason berth since 1993.
Pearson added he's already seen better ball movement early in the season as the Patriots know its going to take a total team effort in order to compete in the city, let alone statewide.
"We know this - we're not going to win a state championship with three. We're going to need more than that," said Pearson. "We have to think that if we do our thing right, we'll be right there."