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O'Dea hangs on against defending champion Auburn to advance right into Class 3A quarterfinals

Miles Clark finishes with a team-high 19 points for O'Dea, Jaylen Petty's game-high 31 points not enough for Auburn

AUBURN, Wash. – Over nearly a day on a charter bus back in December, O’Dea and Auburn coaches and players predicted this very outcome – that the two teams would almost certainly wind up playing each other sometime during the state Class 3A basketball playoffs.

“I don’t even remember who said it,” Auburn coach Ryan Hansen said. “But someone said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the two teams were to play for the state championship, what a story it would make. And that could still happen.”

On Saturday night, a week earlier than maybe they’d have liked, the fourth-seeded Trojans and fifth-seeded Irish met in a regional contest at Auburn High School. And it was O’Dea that used a late 11-0 run to finally pull away before holding on for a 63-61 victory.

Both teams already were assured of advancing to the Tacoma Dome next week. But a bye out of the Round-of-12 on Wednesday was at stake.

With the win, O’Dea advances directly to a 3:45 p.m. quarterfinal against the winner of Wednesday’s Mountlake Terrace-West Seattle game. The Trojans, meanwhile, play a loser-out game Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. against Arlington, a 68-57 winner over Walla Walla on Saturday.

It’s the same path Auburn took a year ago when the Trojans won the 3A title. They lost in the regional round to Mount Spokane and had to win four games instead of three to get to the goal.

“We told the guys it’s the same,” Hansen said. “So don’t feel bad about yourselves tonight. We played a good basketball team. We just let them get to their strengths a few too many times.”

Inclement weather, including the ice storm just before Christmas, forced hundreds of flights out of Sea-Tac to be canceled over the final week of 2022.

Finally, the airlines offered both Auburn and O’Dea a solution to get to prestigious holiday tournaments in California Dec. 27-30. Charter a bus and drive, and the airlines would reimburse the schools.

For the Irish, a private school, the process was easy. The school wrote a check for the some $17,000 to get the bus and later got its money back. For Auburn, a public school, the Trojans would have needed to go through numerous administrative steps to get the money, and on short notice they would have missed their tournament in northern California.

So, O’Dea stepped up and offered the Trojans seats on their bus. The two teams spent about 22 hours together traveling south and then back north, with the Irish dropping Auburn off at their tournament in northern California before going further south to play in theirs, then picking the Trojans up again on the way north four days later.

“I don’t know,” Hansen said. “We pretty much stayed on our side of the bus, and they stayed on theirs.”

Any good will Auburn might have felt for O’Dea’s good deed didn’t translate onto the basketball floor on Saturday or vice versa. The Trojans pushed in front after one quarter, 13-9, only to have the Irish tie it on a late three-point play from Miles Clark.

Things were knotted at 28-28 heading into the locker room for halftime.

“With all their length and size, they’re pretty much everything we’re not,” Hansen said.

Clark, his brother Malcolm and 6-foot-5 wing Amare Jackson got to the rim constantly against Auburn. The Trojans still managed to take a 46-42 lead into the fourth quarter. 

But the Trojans managed to score only five points over the first seven and a half minutes of the final quarter while O’Dea erased a three-point deficit with 5:50 to go with an 11-0 run. That run ended with Clark’s final point of the night, a free throw with 49 seconds left to make it 59-51.

“It’s just great to win a game,” Miles Clark said. “The goal is always to win.”

Clark finished with a team-high 19 points, while Malcolm Clark added 13 and Jackson scored 12. Those three more than offset a huge night from Jaylen Petty for Auburn as he poured in a game-high 31.

“You know everybody in the state,” Miles Clark said. “A bunch of these guys hang out together outside. It’s great to play against guys you know. It just makes it very competitive.”