Before the arrival of this weekend’s winter storm, the Auburn boys basketball team had to weather one of its own.
The Trojans lost valuable practice time Monday and Tuesday in preparation for their district playoff game Thursday as winter’s first major blow of snow, wind and ice earlier in the week closed schools and canceled activities.
On Wednesday, the Trojans’ star post player, senior Isaiah Dunn, was in the emergency room with migraine headaches.
All of which contributed to a rocky start and a disappointing finish on the home floor against another front – the Storm from Skyview.
The visitors from Vancouver jumped out to a 10-point lead, stretched it to 17 points early in the second quarter and cruised the rest of the way, delivering a 60-36 victory against Auburn in a West Central/Southwest District playoff game at Bob Jones Gymnasium.
Weather willing, the Trojans (16-6) will try to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament. They will play Battle Ground at Tacoma’s Foss High School, but when is anyone’s guess, given the impact of the latest snowstorm.
“It could be Monday, but at this point we don’t know,” Auburn coach Ryan Hansen said of the storm-tossed schedule. “We were told we can’t practice Friday, and Saturday is canceled. … It’s wait and see.”
Worst-case scenario? District and state officials may determine that Thursday’s outcome to be a single-elimination game, if the tournament runs out of days to stage play.
Hansen hopes his team gets another shot on the court to atone for its first-round collapse.
“We’re going to be OK. We’ll keep getting better,” he said. “This time of the year, it’s a good taste for our kids, but we want it to taste a little sweeter than it did today.”
From the outset, Skyview contained Dunn and smothered Auburn’s shooters.
“That was the game plan,” said Skyview coach Matt Gruhler. “We watched a lot of film on them, and we knew the keys were trying to slow down their big guy (Dunn) inside and crowd and stay out on their shooters … try to force them to shoot floaters and things in mid-range, which most teams don’t work on as much.
“Those (Auburn) freshman guards are really good. I’m nervous about seeing them in two years,” Gruhler added, “but tonight we did a good job (on them).”
The young Trojans missed shots inside and couldn’t connect from the perimeter. All of their points came off drives and put-backs. It wasn’t until six minutes were left in the game when Kaden Hansen sank the team’s first jumper, a 3-pointer along the baseline.
The Trojans coughed up 24 turnovers.
Darrell Hester, a 5-foot-11 junior, scored all of his eight points in the fourth quarter to lead Auburn. Everyone else scored six points or less. Dunn, not at full speed, scored two points in limited minutes.
Kyle Gruhler and Squeeky Johnson each had 12 points to lead the Storm (16-5).
“Their physicality wore us down a little bit,” Hansen said of the more experienced opponent. “We didn’t play well. We didn’t shoot the ball well. We had some pretty good looks early in the game, but they didn’t go down. The game started to get away from us a little bit, and then you feel like you need to press a little bit to get yourself back in it, and sometimes that’s not a good thing because you’re taking shots you shouldn’t take.”