The senior boys AAA basketball championship tournament always begins with a clean slate - but for the Terry Fox Ravens, it's an unknown slate, too.
The Ravens launch their run to defend the 2012 championship title on Tuesday, when they face off against the North Peace Ookpiks at the Langley Events Centre (12: 45 p.m. tipoff).
What the Port Coquitlam crew knows about the Fort St. John rival could fit through a basketball hoop, with room to spare, notes Fox coach Steve Hanson.
That factor makes Tuesday's tournament opener a different kind of experience in this day of YouTube and blogger scouting reports.
"On North Peace, nobody knows anything about them and I can't find anything about them," remarked Hanson.
"That makes it a little scary, but in the same vein it makes our job a little simpler."
Terry Fox, who earned the Fraser Valley's seventh berth to the provincials, is in one sense freed from relying on expectations and known traits. That, on the other hand, is why the coaches continue to search for information.
"I think sometimes the reliance on scouting reports can be a bad thing, as it prepares you for an expectation. Without a lot of pre-game knowledge (on North Peace), it makes us focus on what we do well, what we can do better."
The Ravens advanced to the B.C.s thanks to some impressive cohesion down the stretch, as the squad ran a gauntlet to lock up a position.
Three times they faced do-or-die games, and each time they survived.
It's a completely different route from what they travelled last year, when they began the season as the No. 1-ranked team in B.C., lost that ranking in the first week of play, and entered the provincials hungry to regain that mantle - which they did in dramatic fashion.
Now, the expectations by others are muted as Fox looks to bottle a different kind of lightning in a year that has seen its share of ups and downs.
Led by senior forward Trevor Casey, the squad has racked up a deep resume of games and faced many of the top teams along the way.
The Ravens' four Grade 10 players - point guard Jomari Reyes, Liam Hancock, Andy Seo and Mike West - have mixed well with the returning crew and seven Grade 11s.
Every layer of experience that the team has survived has prepared it for this final challenge.
"For us to get anywhere in this tournament we have to pull off some upsets," noted Hanson. "The experience of last year's championship, where they began the week as the No. 4-seed and vaulted past everyone en route to the school's third B.C. basketball title, is without question a huge advantage. But this is a completely different team, with a handful of returning players.
"Last year, the boys had a chip on their shoulder and something to prove that they carried through the year, but this year we've taken our lumps and grown together at our own pace."
Hanson points to their 8157 victory over Pitt Meadows in the second game of the Valleys, where their rival came in undefeated against its North league brethren.
"I think one of our best games of the year was beating Pitt to get into the round of eight," he said. "Our execution was outstanding, we shot the ball extremely well and moved it extremely well.
"We went from that to lose to Yale (97-64) three days later, where we just couldn't keep pace. (Yale) was shooting the lights out and my guys were looking at me like 'What do I do?'"
That lesson in adjusting will get tested severely now on the big floor, against an opponent whose tendencies are unknown. Thankfully, Hanson believes his squad's best traits are set up to handle just that kind of assignment.
"I don't think we ever look to start a game cautious, that's not our style," he said with a chuckle. "We like to run and go up the court and use our conditioning. Both teams are going to be nervous but I think we've got enough experience to balance that.
"I think one of my strengths as a coach is that like to have our guys match up against the opposition. We've definitely built this team to fit any situation, one of our biggest strengths is we know when to go man-to-man defensively."
If Fox should defeat North Peace, they would face the Lower Mainland champion and No. 4-ranked Kitsilano Blue Demons 4: 45 p.m. on Wednesday. Kitsilano, at 245, spent part of this season rated first overall before being bumped down the stretch by Walnut Grove and Yale.
The quarterfinals begin Thursday with games at 3, 5, 6: 30 and 8 p.m.
Ticket information for the tournament is available at www.langleyeventscentre.com.