The past few seasons, it has been the 3A Narrows League that has pushed everyone else around, and squeezed opponents out of the West Central District III boys basketball tournament.
That is not the case in 2015-16.
It is the 3A SPSL’s year, led by league champion Auburn Mountainview, which clinched a berth in the Class 3A regional tournament by stopping Foss, 77-63, in the district quarterfinals Friday night at Clover Park High School.
The fourth-ranked Lions (21-1) will meet district-round nemesis Wilson on Wednesday in one district semifinal game at Rogers High School. The Rams have pinned losses on Auburn Mountainview in each of the past two seasons.
But these Lions are all grown up — eight seniors. They have a reliable shooter in Ryan Lacey. They have a big man in Tristan Miguel. And they have many ways to attack an opponent.
“We’ve been in big games before — league championships — so teams like (Foss and Wilson) do not necessarily scare us,” Lacey said. “We’ve played against that kind of pressure.”
And when the Lions shoot it as well as they did in the first half Friday, they certainly will be a difficult foe to handle.
They hit seven of their first nine field-goal attempts against Foss — with three different scorers contributing. Ki’Jan Weisinger scored 10 of his 16 points in the first five minutes.
Then it was Lacey’s turn. He cranked up the stroke from long distance, burying a deep left-corner 3-pointer to give Auburn Mountainview a 19-8 lead.
“I think they are pretty good,” Foss coach Mike Cocke’ said. “Offensively they do a great job, make or miss, of pushing the ball. And they burn you.”
Lacey scored seven consecutive points early in the second quarter, capped by a 12-foot bank shot, to extend the Lions’ lead to 30-16 with 5:25 to go in the half.
Auburn Mountainview shot 19 of 29 from the floor in the first half.
“We’ve got great shooters on our team, and it takes a little of the attention off me,” said Lacey, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “Then they lose track of me.”
Trailing by 21 points at one point — and 17 early in the fourth quarter —Robert Gittens (19 points) and the Falcons trimmed their deficit to 68-58 with 3:09 remaining before back-to-back turnovers did them in.
Foss (15-7) will face Mount Tahoma on Monday in a loser-out district game.
“We’ve got a veteran group of guys who have been in situations like this before,” Auburn Mountainview coach Thomas Ostrander said. “We knew what Foss likes to do. We practiced it. We worked it and the guys were ready for it.”