After a strong start 6-2 start in Kendall White’s fourth year at the helm of the Auburn Mountainview boys basketball team, the Lions stumbled for the second game in a row.
After falling to Kent-Meridian by three for their first league loss of the season on Jan. 4, the Lions were faced with an 11-1 Todd Beamer side that had won eight in a row.
The Lions couldn’t topple the Titans and were defeated 66-57 at Todd Beamer on Jan. 11. It’s the first time the Lions have lost consecutive league games since 2020-21 season, and the Lions are trying to get on the right page.
“It just came down to them making more played than we did. We’ve been struggling to show up, give everything we have and play with heart,” White said.
Early on against Todd Beamer, the Lions looked to be in good shape. Junior point guard Sebastian Arius found his groove early with 10 quick points, with six coming from a pair of three-pointers. After the first quarter, Auburn Mountainview led 17-15, and that was it for their time in front of this basketball game.
In the second quarter the Lions lead fizzled away, and Todd Beamer took over, leading by as much as 12 points. At halftime the Lions trailed 34-26, not out of the game by any stretch of the imagination. But the nine-point second quarter had to improve.
“Today I saw stuff today that I hadn’t seen this year, positively to take away. But those negatives were just a little too strong,” said White.
For the most part, White’s side did come out strong, going on a 13-5 run and trailed by a single point in the middle of the third quarter 40-39.
“We had a sense of urgency. I think when our guys play with a sense of urgency, we play a little more free flowing and a little more confident,” White said.
What might be the key to finish might not be a physical change but a mental one: “We don’t have the short-term memory capabilities to just shut that off (momentous runs), we’re really having those mental struggles right now,” White said
That’s as close to an even contest the second half got. Following that Lion run, Todd Beamer countered and ended the second half up six points 47-41. Offensively the Lions just couldn’t find that difference maker the one to take over and take control of the game. Arius looked to be that guy starting with 10 points but didn’t score until the fourth quarter. “I think he has struggled with confidence a little bit,” White said due to an injury Arius suffered before the season.
“He’s had a couple games where he’s had some very strong quarters, but not a full four,” White said.
A defensive adjustment caused Arius to change his style on the offensive side of the floor. A Todd Beamer defender face-guarded Arius which is something he hadn’t encountered prior to this match up. “He doesn’t quite understand that next gear. ‘I have to still impact the game, become a screener, become a cutter, somebody who can still impact the game’. Then those buckets will continue to come. He’s learning, he’ll get there. He’s a baby,” White said.
The Lions couldn’t get the game back to one possession in the fourth quarter but closed the gap to five and four points twice. There was just too much to come back from late in the game.
“There were too many moments that lasted too long where we had those bad episodes. We still won half the game, but their swings were real deal haymakers, and we didn’t respond,” White said.