Hoops: Auburn Mountainview sent home in heartbreaking fashion

Lions fall to Stadium 41-35 in second round of districts

With their whole season on the line, Auburn Mountainview needed to follow up a superb performance against Prairie with another against the PCL Champion Stadium Tigers.

Auburn Mountainview in its 19-year history has never matched up with the Tigers in boys’ basketball, and this game turned out to be one for the record books.

The Lions fell to Stadium 41-35 in a defensive slugfest at Stadium High on Feb. 14. Across the nine districts in Washington at the 3A level, there was just one team to hold an opponent to under 41 points — that was Mountlake Terrace, who beat Shorecrest 51-27.

Head coach Kendall White has coached in the PCL before and is used to the physical defensive battles that go on in the league — and prepared Auburn Mountainview for something like this.

“Coming into this game I anticipated this type of a score… With it being the last game it is pretty difficult,” White said.

This group of seniors was the first group that White had as freshman, and the last game, whenever it happened, was going to be a tough pill to swallow

“This is our first graduating class. Seeing these seniors walk away like this stings a little. Only one team gets to go home happy in 3A,” White said.

Stadium hasn’t won a game when scoring 41 points or less since 2014, and they did it twice that year with two wins scoring 39 points. Stadium was coming off a loss to Todd Beamer, whom the Lions beat Feb. 2.

Auburn Mountainview got out to a 4-0 lead, but that was it for their lead in the first half. To say it was an offensive struggle might be an understatement. In the Lions’ 21 games this season, they have scored over 35 points in every single one.

“Defense has never been our issue. Scoring in tough scenarios and physical game has been our issue,” White said.

The first quarter was pretty normal, based off basic basketball standards. Stadium took a small 15-11 lead which grew to 23-11 in the second quarter.

On offense after the 8-0 run, White and the Lions made an adjustment. Get the ball to five in blue, Mande Wanlemvo. “There were games we lost this year because we couldn’t make that adjustment… It was good to see, but we didn’t make that adjustment again in the third and fourth quarter,” White said.

Mande scored nine points in the second quarter, fueling an 11-0 run before halftime. The Lions got within one as the halftime buzzer sounded, 23-22 the score.

Coming out of the break the Lions got the upper hand, it was a slight upper hand. But a lead nonetheless. The score was 29-28 after three quarters. “We stuck to what we do well on defense. We held the same values that we tried to instill with this group four years ago… It was very much part of our character to defend like that,” said White.

On defense, the Lions picked up the slack that they had on offense. The Lions full court-press and half court trap defensive strategy worked almost to perfection. In the six games the Lions had held teams to 42-points or less Auburn Mountainview was 6-0.

In a half where you only score 15 points it is tough to have a bright spot. But senior Carmelo Jacobs was that bright spot. When the Lions needed a bucket, Jacobs answered the call. “I’m super proud of him. He’s had quite the journey… To go out like this, do everything we asked of him is huge,” White said.

The Lions lead 35-33 with just under two minutes left in the game. Stadium dashed the state tournament dreams and hopes of the Lions with a 8-0 run to close out the game and defeat Auburn Mountainview.

Lions have some big shoes to fill with Wanlemvo, Bowden and Jacobs departing the program along with two other seniors. But aside from one junior on JV the entire JV roster is freshman and sophomores.

The Lions could be a surprise team come Nov. 2024.

Spencer Evenson contests a jump shot at Stadium High School. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Spencer Evenson contests a jump shot at Stadium High School. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Mande Wanlemvo and Carmelo Jacobs walk back to the locker room after their season came to a close. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Mande Wanlemvo and Carmelo Jacobs walk back to the locker room after their season came to a close. Ben Ray / The Reporter