On an evening that signaled the end of the regular season, Auburn and Auburn Mountainview were paired up with each other in a doubleheader Feb. 6.
The Lion girls were playing some of their best basketball of the season, winners of six of their last seven entering the game against Auburn. But the Lions’ one loss in that seven-game stretch was a 60-point loss to the Trojans.
The Auburn girls’ 2023 season has been a remarkable bounce-back season. Last year, Auburn won just two games, going 2-11. This year, Auburn clinched an NPSL league title before the season even ended.
“We’ve started to trust each other and have been going a lot deeper in our bench, getting them lots of minutes. Really in some games, it is pretty even one through ten. They believe in each other,” Head Coach Jessica Hansen said.
The Trojans went undefeated in league play and lost just one in-state game to Tahoma, who won the 4A NPSL in their first game of the season.
Against the Lions, Auburn showed its offensive might and defensive prowess, winning 67-35.
In the first quarter, Auburn went on a 17-2 run and held that lead for the majority of the game.
At halftime, Auburn led 33-9. That’s how the year has been for the Trojans, just utter domination. Over the 11 league games played Auburn’s average margin of victory is 54.7 points, the closest game the Trojans ever played was this last game against Auburn Mountainview which was a 32-point win.
“We’re not trying to run up the score, but we have to play at a high intensity. Our goal is the postseason, we’re trying to prepare. We’re worried about us, our execution our energy,” Hansen said.
In the second half, Auburn Mountainview had its best quarter of the game and cut the lead to under 20 for the first time since the opening quarter. That was something that Hansen actually commended the Lions for not giving in and competing against Auburn. At the end of the third, Auburn led 44-23.
“I’m glad that Mountainview played well. I’m glad that our girls were up to the challenge, and it was a good game because we needed that,” Hansen said.
Avery Hansen had 22 points and Keleesa Howard had 15 leading the way with in the win. Auburn is now the number one seed and will face Lincoln in the opening round of the district tournament.
The boys game also saw both teams enter hot. Auburn still hasn’t lost an in-state game all year, while Auburn Mountainview had just revived their season with a huge 50-47 win over Todd Beamer earlier in the week extending a five-game win streak to six.
Seemingly clicking and playing all the right notes, the Lions needed to hit one more high note to take second in the NPSL and knock off city rivals Auburn for the first time since 2016.
Auburn is currently enjoying a 17-game win streak over the Lions after an impressive 72-54 win.
“The energy was high and it’s always fun to come in here and play a game like this,” said Carter Hansen.
To start off, Auburn Mountainview jumped out to a 5-0 lead which was their only lead of the night. 2023 NPSL MVP Jaylen Petty struggled out of the gate, but his teammates picked him up, reversing the role that he has done for the majority of the season.
“As a team we kind of rely on Jaylen to carry the load for us. He’s an exceptional player and by his standards he struggled a little bit early on. But Carter was the catalyst and kind of got us going,” Coach Ryan Hansen said.
Trojan junior Carter Hansen played spoiler to the Mountainview party that was senior night. The coach’s kid scored eight in the first quarter on his way to 17 in the game. ”You could tell he was kind of feeling it early on and that was huge,” Hansen said on his son.
“Jaylen started a little slow and I was just trying to keep the energy going,” Carter said.
At the end of the first quarter Auburn led by just five points 18-13, and by halftime the Trojans had separated themselves. Over the eight-minute second quarter Auburn held the Lions to just five points. If not for a Sebastian Arius three as time expired, the Lions would have scored just two points.
Auburn has been a juggernaut defensively this season allowing an average of 48.7 points per game, fewest in the NPSL 3A or 4A.
Auburn closed out the second half leading 56-37 after the third quarter and won the game by 18. Petty had struggled to find his shot early in the game but still managed to finish with a team high 20 points. While the Trojans were up 20 points in the fourth, Petty took a charge under his own basket. That illuminates how he is as a teammate and what Auburn basketball is about: “That’s who we are as a team. We would take a charge last minute if we are up 50. It’s our standard, we just play hard. We tell our team to play to the time not the score,” Hansen said.
Auburn has now won five straight league titles, and that has become the expectation, according to Coach Ryan Hansen. And the players understand that is what it takes to be great.
“It’s a big deal (winning five straight league titles). Because obviously my dad is the coach, my brothers been through it. It’s a big deal to me, I’m trying to keep it going,” Carter said.
The Trojans face Lincoln in the first round of districts with a trip to state on the line if they win.
“I feel like we’re deeper than we were at the start of the year. We have multiple guys that can step up and have big games for us,” coach Ryan Hansen said.