Auburn found itself at a crossroads of a bumpy girls basketball season two weeks ago.
At 4-6 and lodged in the second half of the division scramble, the Trojans proceeded to pick up the pieces and win their next four games, punctuated by a come-from-behind 47-42 win at Auburn Riverside last Friday night.
The Trojans, in completing their first regular-season sweep of the Ravens since the 1998-99 season, secured a top-four finish in the Olympic Division and a spot in this week’s North Puget Sound League playoffs, something they haven’t done in some time.
Auburn and Enumclaw settle third place in the division with a Tuesday night tiebreaker game at Auburn Mountainview High School.
The Trojans (8-6 division, 10-10 overall) will play the NPSL Cascade’s Nos. 3 or 4 qualifier in a crossover playoff game for district tournament seeding at Auburn Mountainview High School this Friday.
Last Friday, down eight points early in the fourth quarter, Auburn went on a spree, closing out a 14-3 run in the final 3½ minutes to take the NPSL Olympic game.
“The kids played hard. They made plays when we needed it,” said Auburn coach Jon Price. “We guaranteed ourselves some more basketball, which is a cool opportunity for our kids. These kids have been working, and it’s been a long process, but it’s nice to see something come from it.”
Juniors helped lead the way. Emily Strojan scored 16 points, seven of which came down the final stretch, and Alerjah Hill and Tatiana Rose each had 10 points for the Trojans.
Meanwhile, the Ravens (7-7, 10-10) join Auburn Mountainview (7-7, 11-8) in loser-out NPSL crossover playoff games on Thursday. Both games are at Auburn Mountainview High School.
Stephanie Igwala scored 14 points, Carol Chikusa had 13 and Brooke Dye finished with 12 for Auburn Riverside.
The Ravens led 36-28 early in the fourth quarter before the Trojans responded. Strojan hit an 8-foot jumper and Rose drove the baseline for two to pull Auburn even at 39-39 with 1:48 to play. Rose put back her own missed free throw and Strojan answered again on a drive to the basket for a 43-39 lead at the 1:04 mark.
Two free throws each from Strojan and Jaya Harshman in the closing seconds sealed the win.
“We did a nice job on the backside of our offense of attacking the one-on-one’s,” Price said. “We got good play from our bench. We made shots when we needed them.
“Riverside played hard,” Price said. “Coming down here, this is a good win. We’ll take it.”