For the first time since 2008, both Auburn High School boys and girls basketball teams qualified for the state tournament.
For the girls, the 2021-22 season was the first time they had qualified for state since the 2008 season, while the boys qualified in the prior 2020-21 state tournament.
The girls team has a new coach this year, Regina Rogers-Wright, who played Division I basketball at UCLA for a season and finished her career at University of Washington. She takes over for Jon Price, who is now the Auburn High School athletic director.
Rogers-Wright’s first day on the job was the first day of tryouts. Rogers-Wright has inherited an extremely young program — her entire non-varsity roster is entirely made up of freshmen and first-year players.
“We are rebuilding, we have a lot of new faces. We have a very, very young team and I am excited to see what goes on for the next couple years,” she said.
So far this season the biggest challenge for Rogers-Wright has been staying on the court.
“COVID and the flu have really hit our team hard. That has been the most difficult thing this season is staying healthy. I was out for a week, one of our assistant coaches was out for a week, we had six to seven girls out so far this year,” she said.
Even with the health troubles and the timeliness of her hire, Coach Rogers-Wright expects her team to be tough.
“My expectations are for us to have fun and compete” and “to see improvement from the beginning to the end of the season,” she said.
She has also relied on Auburn High School boys coach Ryan Hansen to help her learn the way of the road.
“Coach Hansen is a terrific coach. When I got the job, he was one of the first calls I made. He reached out and he gave me the lay of the land. I always text him and ask him questions … He has his own style and I’m just learning from him,” Rogers-Wright said.
Coach Hansen echoed the same regards.
“I want to be there and support Coach Rogers-Wright as much as I can. I’m excited about having her here. She had a really strong pedigree as a player … I’ve been really happy to help her,” he said.
For the boys, they are coming off their first state title in school history and their third straight NPSL League title. The boys have now had back-to-back state appearances and have capitalized on their previous showing, winning the whole thing. After that win, the team flew down to Florida to compete in the State Champions Invitational, but the Trojans lost in the championship to Calvary Christian (FL).
With all those accolades and expectations coming into this season, the team doesn’t feel any pressure.
“We just focus on playing to the standards that we are used to for Auburn basketball … If we can play to our standards every day, a league championship is a by-product of that,” Hansen said. “This year we got a really good, strong team. I think we are gonna be in the mix. But again we have to take care of the little things that develop championship culture.”
The standard that Hansen has set for his team has dominated competition over the past three years. In that span, the Trojans are 69-6 and have dominated league play, going 31-1 since 2019. Their last league loss was on Dec. 11, 2019. It has been over 1,000 days since Auburn has lost a league game.
That comes with a target from opponents.
“We talked about how there is a big target on our back. Teams don’t care about who is on our team. They just see they are playing Auburn across our chest. We preached a lot about understanding the target is there, we aren’t running from it, and it is an honor to have it,” Hansen said.
These Trojans look to defend their state title and look to continue their streak of league championships starting Dec. 2 as they take on crosstown rival Auburn Riverside at 7 p.m.