SMITHVILLE - Defending Cannon County champion Auburn opened the 2011-12 season in convincing fashion with its girls and boys securing semifinal wins at the Best of the West Tournament at DeKalb West Elementary School Tuesday (Oct. 25).
The Lady Knights claimed a 28-19 win against Defeated Creek in its contest, and Auburn's boys followed suit with a 40-19 thrashing of Defeated Creek in its semifinal game. The Auburn teams advanced to Friday's championship games.
Samantha Gaither was outstanding in the victory with a stat-stuffer performance that included a double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots and two steals.
Gaither keyed Auburn's comeback with eight fourth-quarter points and 12 in the second half. Alayna Reed added four points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists. Hannah Leach added three points and four blocked shots.
Auburn (1-0) got off to a slow start and trailed 12-9 at the half but the Lady Knights turned up the defense and allowed just one third quarter point and seven in the second half. Auburn outscored Defeated 7-1 to turn the game in its favor for good.
The Auburn boys lost several outstanding eighth-graders from last year's championship team but the Knights looked strong out of the gate against Defeated Creek.
Shooting specialist Briar Jakes picked up where he left off at the end of last season with 12 points to lead the Knights (1-0). Tyler King and Dalton Gaither eached scored eight for Auburn, followed by Tommy Melton, Johnny Kennedy and Austin Duggin with four points each.
Auburn took full control in the first quarter, supplying stifling defense to jump out to a commanding 18-0 lead. The Knights stretched the advantage to 28-8 at the half and coasted to victory.