Young, deep and hungry, the Auburn boys basketball team continues to emerge before the very eyes of its coach.
So far, Ryan Hansen likes what he sees.
When their shots wouldn’t fall early during a ragged first half of play on Friday, the Trojans pressed and applied the vise with rugged defense to wear down and break away from Auburn Mountainview 61-32 at Bob Jones Gymnasium.
Auburn improves to 4-1 in the North Puget Sound League Olympic race, 6-1 overall. The Lions, a young, rebuilding team, drops to 1-4 and 4-4.
“It’s nice to know that we can rely on our defense,” Hansen said. “I thought we were exceptional defensively tonight. We played with great energy. We had good rotations. … We have to do that on nights when you’re not scoring.”
The Trojans shut down the Lions, whose troubles began with cold shooting and continued with steady turnovers.
Auburn Mountainview didn’t score its first field goal until 2 minutes, 11 seconds were left in the first quarter and struggled home with only eight points by the break.
Auburn opened up a 23-8 lead at halftime and never looked back.
The Trojans’ Maleek Arington, a 6-foot sophomore guard, scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the first half. Darrell Hester, a 6-5 senior, scored 12 points and led Auburn’s dominance on the boards. Kaden Hansen, another sophomore guard, came off the bench to add 11 points.
Salauta Savusa, a 5-10 sophomore guard, led the Lions with 12 points.
The Trojans covered the floor and didn’t let up.
“We’re always preaching that … you have to play with great toughness and high energy. I thought we did a great job of that tonight,” Hansen said. “Our kids love playing with each other, the love playing for each other. You can see that by watching our bench during a game. There’s a lot of excitement for each other. They like to see each other have success.”
The education continues for the Trojans. They head to Anaheim, Calif., for four games in five days at the Orange County Holiday Classic this week.
In girls action, the Trojans defeated the Lions 40-32 to improve to 4-1 in league, just a game back of Olympic-leading Todd Beamer.
Auburn lost to North Creek of Bothell 63-55 in a nonleague tuneup Saturday for the Trojans’ trip to the Las Vegas Classic this week.