After surviving a difficult stretch of a league games, mostly on the road, the forecast appears bright for Auburn’s improving boys basketball team.
The Trojans shone inside and out Thursday night to pull away from rival Auburn Riverside 64-48 for their fourth straight North Puget Sound League Olympic Division win.
Auburn, which improved to 5-2 in league and 6-2 overall, played five of its first seven division games away from home, winning four of them.
The Trojans’ road itinerary includes a trip to Southern California for matchups against heralded teams at the Orange Holiday Classic next week before they resume league play at home against Decatur on Jan. 5.
Coach Ryan Hansen likes what he sees in a team that’s learning fast, sharing the ball and crashing the boards.
“We kinda got through the gauntlet a little bit,” he said of the rugged first-half schedule. “I’m real proud of the guys. We were able to get through that stretch. It will be nice to be home a little bit more.”
At Auburn Riverside, the Trojans discovered their shooting touch early and often behind guard Jason Brown and asserted themselves under the glass behind the powerful duo of 6-foot-8 senior Sidney White and 6-5 junior Isaiah Dunn.
Brown opened things up, hitting three early treys, and White, before picking up a pair of quick fouls, scored eight points down low as Auburn had a 20-15 lead after one quarter. The lead grew to 33-20 at the break.
Dunn began to take over in the third quarter, finding seams in the Ravens’ 2-3 zone and finishing with eight points in the period as the lead swelled to 20 points at one time.
“When they spread out and don’t play man(-to-man defense), we just attack,” said Dunn, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half. “When it crowds up, we pass it out and get open shots.”
Brown finished with a team-high 20 points and White had 14 for Auburn.
Jaden Robinson scored 16 points to pace Auburn Riverside (0-7, 0-10).
“They’re a solid basketball team. They have a lot of big guys inside that we don’t have. We have a hard time matching up with that,” said Ravens coach Kevin Olson. “Jason (Brown) was really knocking down shots tonight, and it made it tough to defend. We battled decently but (there was) too much rebounding inside and too much shooting from Jason.”
Although winless, the Ravens fought to the end.
“The only way to turn it around is to keep working hard, and good things will happen,” Olson said. “We stick together, we keep working hard, keep doing things right and gotta believe that we get some breaks, that things will go our way, and we’ll get some wins in the second half.”
Hansen, meanwhile, hopes his team can continue to grow. The combination of good outside shooting and strong inside play bodes well. Transition baskets also help.
“When you have a player who can really knock down shots like Jason can, it can really open up the floor, and they have to extend out and get out to him, and that leaves a lot of lanes for our rebounders,” Hansen said. “We were pretty active tonight, getting to the offensive glass.
“If that continues, it kinda makes scouting a little bit more difficult (for other teams).”
Added Dunn: “We can get way better.”
Pa’Treon “Joosey” Lee, the Trojans’ returning all-league guard, had a frustrating night mired in foul trouble. He finished with two points.
“He’s not a kid who is going to pout about it. He is going to work through it,” Hansen said of his unselfish, standout leader. “It’s not like he’s not playing well or playing hard.”