Auburn High School Boys’ Basketball Beats Mount Tahoma

Auburn Mount Tahoma quarterback in a non-league game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 at Auburn High School.

Auburn Mount Tahoma quarterback in a non-league game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 at Auburn High School.

Tre Blassingame was visibly frustrated, running into teammate Kaden Hansen on the bench midway through the third quarter, after Hansen committed a technical foul after a light brush with a Mount Tahoma player in the home non-league basketball game of ‘Auburn Thursday night. He wanted Hansen, one of the best players on the team, to be smart, to keep his cool.

The technical fault, on the surface, was of no consequence. At this point, Auburn was leading by nearly 20 points, smothering Mount Tahoma senior scorer Asjon Anderson and the T-Birds offense and using a balanced offensive offense to create a comfortable gap between themselves and their opponents. Auburn’s eventual victory was almost inevitable at this point in the game.

Blassingame’s frustration ultimately had nothing to do with Thursday night’s game, an 80-47 victory for Auburn over 3A Pierce County League’s top team, Mount Tahoma. It had everything to do with the prize Auburn players had in mind since they were underclass, quickly becoming one of the most talented young teams in the state. A county championship.

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Auburn guard Trevon Blassingame (2) heads to the basket for a lay-up as Mount Tahoma forward DJ Laffitte (23) defends during the third quarter of a non-league game on Thursday January 20, 2022 at Auburn High School. Peter Caster

“(Blassingame) came and tore me apart,” Kaden Hansen said.

He didn’t appreciate it at the moment, but did after the game was over. After the match, Hansen approached Blassingame and thanked him.

“I appreciate him doing this,” Hansen said. “That’s what’s so good about this team, we have so many leaders who can hold each other accountable.”

With the goal of a state title in mind, Auburn will have to be the best version of itself, something close to perfection. Especially if a rematch with Garfield — the highest-ranked team in the state and the only team to beat Auburn this winter — is in order at the Tacoma Dome in early March.

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Auburn Mount Tahoma quarterback in a non-league game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 at Auburn High School. Peter Caster

While the technical foul didn’t matter in Thursday’s game, it could be the difference between hosting a trophy and settling for a consolation prize when the state tournament rolls around. So yes, Auburn players hold each other accountable. It starts with Blassingame.

“Tre is our leader,” Auburn coach Ryan Hansen said. “There is no doubt about it. Everyone knows it. He’s our most vocal guy in practice every day, in games, on the bench, in time outs. Everyone respects Tre in that role and it’s great as a coach to have a senior leader who can sort of crush those things.

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Auburn guard Dae’Kwon Watson (24) celebrates after scoring a layup and being fouled as Mount Tahoma forward Marquise Thorpe-Taylor (34) looks away during the third quarter of a non-league game on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Auburn High School. Peter Caster

WATSON embracing a bigger role with Arington sidelined

Auburn used a balanced offensive offense to pass Mount Tahoma on Thursday, led by senior guard Dae’Kwon Watson’s 21 points and Kaden Hansen’s 20 points. Blassingame added 11, Semaj Brown added nine and second Luven Valcin had eight for the Trojans.

Auburn senior guard Maleek Arington, one of the team’s best players, has been mostly sidelined for the past two weeks with a lingering knee injury. He will be reevaluated in about a week and a half with a good chance of returning to action for Auburn’s playoffs later this month. In his absence, Watson took on more of the load, transitioning to point guard and running the show.

“(My role) has changed dramatically,” Watson said. “I never liked playing point guard, but I’m getting used to it and I’m starting to like it a little more. I’m getting more and more comfortable with it, so it really improves my game a lot more. The biggest adjustment is being a general floor, pretty much. Getting my teammates where they need to be, making sure they get where they need to be. Make sure you master the games.

Ryan Hansen says Watson’s play has been important for the Trojans with Arington out.

“He’s been huge,” he said. “It’s not the least bit surprising. He is a player, he can intervene in big games and he will not hesitate at this time. To see him be a bit more aggressive offensively, we really took on our role to be our defensive lock guy. Maleek played that role in the block, so seeing Dae’Kwon transition to that and being really proud of that was really important to us.

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Mount Tahoma guard Asjon Anderson (20) dribbles to the basket as Auburn guard Dae’Kwon Watson (24) defends during the third quarter of a non-league game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 at the Auburn High School. Peter Caster


Mount Tahoma senior guard Asjon Anderson scored a game-high 32 points, but the scoring result doesn’t paint the whole picture. Twenty of his points came on free throws, and Auburn’s defense forced Anderson to miss plenty of shots throughout the game. Trojans also returned Anderson often. The game plan against the star of Mount Tahoma? Making life uncomfortable, rotating defenders throughout the game and bringing in double teams at the right times.

“Running him and jumping him, throwing double teams at him, just taking the ball out of his hands, making him take hard shots and getting fouled,” Kaden Hansen said. “I think we did pretty well. He got a lot of points on free throws. I think Dae’Kwon played great defense against him.

Auburn, the No. 2 ranked team in the state in this week’s AP poll, improved to 13-1 with the win, going 7-0 in the 3A NPSL. Mount Tahoma fell to 11-2 with the loss. The T-Birds are undefeated in the 3A PCL.

Jon Manley covers high school sports for The News Tribune. A McClatchy President’s Award winner and a graduate of Gonzaga University, Manley has been covering the South Sound sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.

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