Auburn Riverside boys lose to Kent-Meridian in OT

Auburn Riverside is back in action Dec. 14 against cross town rival Auburn Mountainview.

It hasn’t been the brightest start to new Head Coach Ryan Rogers at Auburn Riverside. The Ravens were off to a poor start losing their first two, but after a win against Kentlake, the Ravens took on Kent-Meridian.

The Royals have had the Ravens number since joining the NPSL winning all three meetings between the two sides. Kent-Meridian outlasted Auburn Riverside once again with a 68-67 win at Kent-Meridian Dec. 11. “I told the guys after the game, effort is not an issue with our guys. It’s more so just we needed a 50/50 ball. We just need to work on the little things,” Head Coach Ryan Rogers said.

The Ravens were looking for their second win in a row which would be the first time since 2020. That streak will continue after the Ravens just fell short against the Royals. “It was a fun conference game. It hurts, but back to the drawing board,” Rogers said.

Auburn Riverside was down 11-2 early in the first quarter but fought back to even at the close of the quarter 15-15. The fight and resolve that the Ravens showed is something that Rogers knows his group will always show, “It’s been really rewarding watching the guys because it’s all new stuff, it’s a new system,“ Rogers said.

Rogers took over the program from legendary basketball coach Thomas Hironoka. “Hiro had a whole other program, we kept a little bit but everything is brand new. They had to be learners and learn everything in a month or two which is really rough, but they have adapted well,” Rogers said.

Riverside senior Freddie Boles takes a shot in the corner.

Riverside senior Freddie Boles takes a shot in the corner.

Freshman Emediong Ukpe was forecasted to play junior varsity because Rogers wasn’t sure how he could fit in the rotation of the Ravens. But he was the leading scorer in the first half for the Ravens and provided a spark to keep them in the game. “I wanted to originally give him minutes on JV because I wanted him to play. But then I would see him at practice, and I was questioning myself if he should be a varsity basketball player. At the end of the day if you can defend and rebound you’ll play for me… (Ukpe) battles and he’s the future of Riverside basketball, so I look forward to seeing him over the next four years, “Rogers said on his young freshman.

In the second half the Ravens scored the first five points to get level with Kent-Meridian and set the tone for the second half of play. Jaiden Barba fought through contact on a couple layups in the third quarter and brought some intensity to the game that would fire up both of these sides for the rest of the game.

“It pumps me up. Watching Jaiden and Marcelino get in a stance and d-up. They’re competitive kids and to see them in games, because I know the last few years they haven’t had the most success. But to be in games and have intensity and have that three in the corner shot to have an opportunity to win the basketball game. Whereas last year they might not have been in this game, “ said Rogers.

In the fourth quarter the two sides played competitive fast paced basketball. Neither side enjoyed more than a four-point lead, with 46 second remaining Auburn Riverside led 55-54. After some free throws, a steal and a layup the Ravens found themselves trailing with just over 12 seconds remaining 58-55.

Raven senior Marcelino Sanchez found Freddie Boles at the top of the key for the game tying three point shot to tie the game and give him seven fourth quarter points.

Something that Rogers is all too familiar with, “I’ve known Freddie since he was a sophomore. He was the only player I knew before coming over from Auburn. He’s a character, it’s fun coaching him. He’s our leader out there he’s the guy that if we need a go get a bucket. He’s our go-to guy. For him to hit that shot, I’ve seen him hit that shot so I wasn’t too surprised,” Rogers said.

Quite the turn of events here. Julius Graham steals the ball and gives the Royals a 3 point lead. But Freddie Boles hit the shot of the night to tie it up with nine left.

— Ben Ray (@bigplaybenray) December 12, 2023

“Boles has been he for us all year,” said Rogers.

On the Royals inbound, Boles intercepted a pass and broke away but couldn’t get the go-ahead basket off in time and the buzzer sounded. Sending the game to overtime.

A big reason for Riverside always having to comeback were Raven give aways, “We had 20 turnovers tonight. It’s hard to win, lose by one and you had 20 turnovers. We need to work on that,” Rogers said.

In overtime neither team score more than 10 points, but the Royals found a way to take the lead making six free throws to give themselves a one-point lead. After causing a travel the Ravens got the ball back with nine seconds left in overtime.

Senior point guard Ben Malela drove down the lane and kicked out a pass to a wide-open Barba in the corner for the go-ahead three pointer but the shot in the back iron and the buzzer went off with the score 68-67. “Barba is one of three varsity returners. I’m proud of him and I know he’ll hit the next one,” Rogers said.

There was a chance for Rogers to take a timeout and go over the play for the Ravens, but he didn’t want the Royals to get set defensively and to his credit the players executed everything but the made shot. “We had the play set up… Ben got going down hill and his option was to either get a layup or kick it to the corner. We’ll live with the open three,” Rogers said.

Auburn Riverside is back in action Dec. 14 against cross town rival Auburn Mountainview.

Jaiden Barba goes up for a layup with a Royal defender contesting his shot.

Jaiden Barba goes up for a layup with a Royal defender contesting his shot.