2013 boys basketball team previews

Auburn's Tony Callero elevates for a shot against Auburn Mountainview's Christian Rotter.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Reporter

Auburn Trojans

Coach: Ryan Hansen, 12th year

Last Season: 3rd in the SPSL North 4A with a 12-4 league record, 16-10 overall.

Last State Appearance: 2013, lost in the round of 16.

Top Returners: Marquise Prater, senior, 6-3, wing; JJ Ruffin, senior, 5-9, guard; and Rio Paul, senior, 6-2, wing.

Top Newcomers: Malik Williams, sophomore, 5-8, guard; and Mut Chuol, junior, 6-0, wing.

Outlook: Last year the Trojans fought their way into the first round of the state regional tournament before losing 58-53 to Jackson. Although leading scorer Harold Lee and inside presence Spencer Fisher are gone, the team returns some experience in seniors Prater (9 points per game, 7 rebounds per game) Ruffin (10 ppg, 3 assists per game) and Paul (9 ppg, 5 rpg). This year Auburn will have to bank on their speed and athleticism to make up for a lack of size. On the boards the team will look for Paul and 6-2 post Dom Ecklund to pull down the rebounds. The team will also look to Williams (who had 21 points in the Trojans' opening game) and Chuol to make some noise.

"Time will tell how these Trojans compare to previous years," Hansen said. "I like their toughness and work ethic. They need to perform on a daily basis and compete against bigger teams to find ways to win games."

Key Games: You have to love a crosstown rivalry and this year's two contests against Auburn Riverside – 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at Auburn and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Auburn Riverside – should be key games for both teams.

Auburn Mountainview Lions

Coach: Terrance Johnson, 2nd year.

Last Season: Tied for 1st in SPSL 3A with 7-3 league record, 13-11 overall.

Last State Appearance: none.

Top Returners: None

Top Newcomers: Tristan Miguel, sophomore, 6-9, post; and Wyatt Walstad, senior, 6-4, wing.

Outlook: The Lions took a big hit courtesy of graduation last year and return a team chockfull of underclassman and a handful of seniors without a ton of varsity experience. Johnson will look to the nine sophomores, one junior and four seniors on the squad to garner experience quick. One luxury the team will have is size, with five players standing 6-4 or taller.

"Our goal is to get better as the season progresses, and giver ourselves a chance to competitive in league," Johnson said. "We will have good moments and learning moments, but we do have a chance to develop into a nice team and have a good season."

Key Games: The Lions get an early nonleague test at 8:30 p.m.Dec. 21 when they take on Kentwood at the ShoWare Shootout in Kent. At 7 p.m. Jan. 20 Auburn Mountainview will get a shot at the team that knocked them out of the district playoffs last season when they face Timberline at the King Showcase at the ShoWare Center.

Auburn Riverside Ravens

Coach: Jason Brown, 2nd year

Last Season: 8th place in the SPSL North 4A with a 4-12 record, 6-14 overall.

Last State Appearance: none

Top Returners: Derek Brown Jr., senior, 5-10, guard; Derek White, junior, senior, guard; Drew Wallen, 6-2, senior, wing; Mitch Wetmore, junior, 5-9, guard; and Joshua Turner, senior, 6-2, wing.

Outlook: Already this season the Ravens are on the verge of eclipsing their win total from last year, with a 3-0 record through Dec. 11. In those three games the team is averaging 87 points per game while holding opponents to just over 67 points per game. In the Auburn Riverside's first game of the season against Capital, the team erupted for 109 points, with Derek Brown and Wetmore notching 34 points each in the contest. In those games Brown, who led the SPSL North 4A in scoring last year with 22 ppg, averaged 26 ppg. Couple in the improved play of a strong core of returners such as Wallen, Wetmore, White and Turner with a crop of talented newcomers and the team could sneak up on lot of teams in the SPSL North 4A.

Key Games: The Raven's will play Auburn twice this season at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at Auburn and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Auburn Riverside. By the time the team makes it's second run through the SPSL North 4A, beginning with Kentlake at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14 and ending with their second game against Auburn, the Ravens and the league should have a pretty good idea of what this team is all about.

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