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Talented Auburn squad ready to take on SPSL North 4A foes | GIRLS BASKETBALL

First-year Auburn girls basketball coach Adam Ladage knows he has the pieces to make a run at a playoff spot out of the South Puget Sound League North 4A.

He also knows that it’s not going to be a cakewalk.

“We have the talent to do a lot of good things,” said Ladage, who was an assistant to longtime Auburn coach Bob Bender last year. “Now, how well we do in the toughest league in the state is going to be determined by how well we execute, get out and run and defend.”

Last season the Trojans finished fifth in the SPSL North with a 8-8 league record, grabbing the final playoff spot. Auburn went as far as the West Central District tournament where it went 0-2, finishing the season with a 10-13 record.

The Trojans were led by senior Heather Restrepo – now playing at Western Washington University – who averaged more than 14 points per game. Also gone from last year’s squad are McKenna Swanson (4.6 ppg) and Nicole Young (6.25 ppg).

The team does return a strong core of players, however, led by point guard and senior Christiana Strickland.

“You always want a leader with the ball in her hands,” Ladage said. “It’s her fourth year with the program, her third year on varsity. We look to her for leadership on the court.”

The Trojans also will look to Strickland to feed the Trojans' trio of scoring threats – 6-0 junior guard/forward Isia Johnson, 6-0 senior post Erin Fischer and 5-10 guard Sienna Pollard.

Johnson averaged 14.3 points per game and seven rebounds per game last year.

“Offensively, we’re led by Isia. Most people recognize her and try to stop her,” Ladage said.

In addition to being big enough to play the forward spot, as well as fast enough to play guard, Ladage said Johnson also was “one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.”

If teams key on Johnson, Ladage said Pollard should be able to pick up the slack.

“They’re both guards and posts, so it becomes a mismatch for us, which is exactly what we want.”

Throw in Fischer, who had a double-double in the team’s season-opening 55-46 loss to Tahoma, and the Trojans have the firepower to garner some victories in the SPSL North.

“We just need to be consistent on a daily basis,” Ladage said. “Consistent on what we want to do and with our play. Our best strength is our defensive commitment, and we need to let that show in games. We have a great bunch of girls.

"It’s exciting to take over a program that is so rich in girls basketball tradition.”

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