The Auburn Trojans boys basketball took down Auburn Mountainview for the third time this season Feb. 16.
Auburn Head Coach Ryan Hansen was cautious this third time around.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times. I was nervous coming into this game. Mountainview is a good team. They’ve got a lot of ability and they play hard,” Hansen said.
The matchup between these teams always seems to be skewed the way of the Trojans. Auburn Mountainview has nine losses on the season as of this writing, and three of them have been to the Trojans. All but one of the other five losses were from teams that are still in the postseason.
These two teams have met up twice in the new year, and both times Auburn has beaten the Lions by over 13 points, including a win by 30 on Feb. 4.
“It was a great atmosphere. You just gotta take it all in and play your game. Stay focused and keep moving forward,” said junior Luvens Valcin, who finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“We really believe that if we can defend and rebound we can make a similar run as last year,” Hansen said.
Rebounding and defending the Trojans did. Besides the fourth quarter, the Trojans held the Lions to single digits in each quarter and out-rebounded the Lions, 34-27.
Auburn put the Lions away early, gaining a huge lead during the first quarter and never looking back. The Trojans shot a very high percentage early in the contest, and made heavily contested shots as well. Auburn led 20-6 after the first quarter.
It was a balanced attack all around for the Trojans — not one player led by a significant margin in any category. Auburn came through with a team win, where everyone contributed.
“They’re a really unselfish group … They trust each other and play for one another. We have good senior leadership, a strong senior class,” Hansen said.
Senior Semaj Brown had an excellent game against the Lions, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and a block.
During the fourth quarter it got chippy between the teams, even though the Trojans still had a 20 point lead. The rivalry between these teams is still strong, and for Luvens Valcin, it meant a little more beating Mountainview in the playoffs.
“It meant everything to us. We wanted to be dawgs and we came out as dawgs,” Valcin said.
At one point, the Trojans’ record was 6-5 this season, yet they finished 18-5. It started with Jaylen Petty and others stepping up and leading the team.
“There is a reason we went down to California. We went 1-3, but it was one of the best things we did.”