Trojans basketball team adjusted on the fly – and drove to California

The Auburn Trojans boys basketball team had an eventful winter trip down to California to play teams from the southern part of the state. The plan for the Trojans was to leave the day after Christmas and fly to Los Angeles for a four-game round robin tournament.

Head Coach Ryan Hansen was notified that the team flight to California was canceled Christmas afternoon because of the ice storm that hit Washington state. Unfortunately for Hansen, the earliest the airline could accommodate the team was Wednesday, Dec. 28. Auburn had a game scheduled for Tuesday, so that would severely hurt the number of games they could play.

“I had a little feeling that ‘Man, this really might not workout,’” Hansen said.

But through some coaching connections, he reached out to O’Dea Head Coach Jason Kerr. The Irish were in the same boat as the Trojans, stuck at home longing for some California sunshine. The two coaches agreed as a last resort the two would play a “home and home” — one game at Auburn and one in Seattle. That option remained a backup plan with the priority of getting to California.

The two schools ended up pitching in and taking a charter bus all the way down to California. O’Dea was playing in San Diego, so the Fighting Irish dropped off Auburn and continued on their journey.

The competition challenged Auburn more than they had been challenged recently, and it gave the Trojans an experience as close to the state tournament as they could get.

“We went down there for a reason,” Hansen said. “We went down there to find out a little more about ourselves, how we respond to tough teams.”

Auburn won just a single game out of their four contests, but for coach Hansen, “I was really happy with the way we competed, and I think that we learned a little bit about ourselves that we have to clean up.”

It is typical for a team to go through adversity in a season, but this Auburn team has had its unique challenges. Ranging from a buzzer-beating loss to Tahoma, senior guard Jerry Petty Jr. suffering a season ending knee injury, and driving 20-plus hours to California have put this team through the ringer.

“Adversity can make you mentally tougher, but we want to be done. We have had our fair share … We are going to come through in the end stronger than before,” Hansen said.