Mount Rainier boys hoop
AUBURN--Mount Rainier High School boys basketball head coach Ken Bush refused to let Friday's 53-52 loss at Auburn bother him too much, even though it could go down in the books as a costly heartbreaker.
"It was a tough loss, but we played well," Bush said. "This drops us down into the middle of the standings, I'm sure, but like I told the kids, there's a lot of basketball left to be played."
The Rams did play extremely well against the host Trojans, and the game did not get away until the closing seconds.
With Mount Rainier of Des Moines out front, 52-51, and only 9.1 seconds left, Auburn's JJ Ruffin went to the free throw line and calmly iced two charity tosses to suddenly put his team up by a 53-52 score.
That turned out to be the final margin, with the Rams only having enough time for an inside miss followed by a rebound that was not put back up in time.
Mount Rainier had taken a 52-50 lead with 1:35 remaining on a basket by senior forward Caden Rowland.
The scoreboard was not dented again until 22.7 seconds stood on the clock, when Auburn's Harold Lee missed his first free throw and was seemingly bothered some by the Mount Rainier fans' "foot thunder."
But Lee easily collected himself and hit the second shot to cut the margin to 52-51.
Jamil Wilson/Jones of the Rams then drew a foul with 17.8 seconds to go but missed twice as the Auburn fans' feet pounded away on the grandstands in return.
That set up the heroics by Ruffin in making two for the Trojans at the 9.1 second mark.
Back in the beginning of the game Mount Rainier jumped out front convincingly at 10-5 , 12-7 and then 14-9 on a pass underneath to -- and score by -- Andrew Lenaburg. Teammate Jame Dolce scored two points to pad the lead to 16-9 with 1:07 left on the first quarter clock.
Spencer Fisher of Auburn got his team back on track in the remaining time to the second quarter, however. He scored and then swished in a free throw at the 40.6 mark to make it 16-12 and Rio Paul of the Trojans sank a 3-point shot at the buzzer to make it 16-15.
Mount Rainier seemed to reclaim the momentum to start off the second quarter as Andrew Benard hit a 3-point basket that bounced off the rim and off the back board and right into the hoop.
The Rams were still up 29-22 with 2:57 left until halftime when the Trojans sank three-straight threes to forge a 31-29 halftime advantage.
The game then went back-and-forth in the third quarter, with Mount Rainier holding a precipitous 41-40 lead at the buzzer.
Jake Morine of the Rams then hit a putback and Benard a 3-point bomb from the left side to put the Rams seemingly in control at 46-40, but that lead also evaporated.
Benard led Mount Rainier with 12 points and Morine backed him up with 10. Robert Lenaburg and Rowland added nine apiece and Wilson/Jones scored five with Andrew Lenaburg and Rayshawn Parker tossing in two each.
Paul and Lee paced Auburn with 12 apiece.