Jayden Buckley

Auburn High guard Jayden Buckley drives to the basket

The Auburn High boys basketball team has been on a roll to start the season, amassing an 11-4 record heading into next week's holiday tournament. 

The Tigers notched a 84-75 victory on Monday, propelled by strong outings from Jayden Buckley and Ja'keith Carr, who scored 40 points and 27 points, respectively, in the contest. 

"That's stuff that hasn't been done in a long time, when you have two guys putting that kind of pointage up," said head coach Chris Brandt, who also noted  Carter Davis' buzzer-beater against Hillcrest. "A lot of different people are contributing. It's been kind of fun; it's been kind of a roller-coaster."

The track leads to next week's LaGrange Toyota Basketball Classic, which will pit the Tigers in games for the first time in program history against Marietta, Riverdale and Lovejoy from Tuesday through next Thursday. 

Brandt said he's just now getting tape on the teams to review, but is excited about going to play in LaGrange because their new gym is one of the best he's seen for a high school. 

"It's going to be good for us to go against different talents," he said. "Usually, Georgia teams have really good height on them, so to be able to play against quickness and height, it's going to be a challenge. But I think it's going to prepare us for when we play Central and Smiths Station."

The tournament will also help the Tigers continue to develop chemistry with the relatively new additions of football players to the team. 

"It's what I expected as far as their development," said Brandt of the addition of the football players to the roster. "I knew that there was going to be a learning curve for some. For example, Bakari Dailey, who's never ever played with us and moved in the first of August, I've felt has made big strides learning what we're doing, and I've been able to play him pretty quickly. Some of the others have been hurt when they got done with football and they're slowly coming along. 

"All of them are where I thought they would be and I think by the time we get to the first of January they'll be at full-steam."

So far, Brandt said he's learned a few lessons on the strengths and weaknesses of this year's squad, noting that the Tigers are not the pressing team they were last year. 

"We're more of a get-back-and-play solid defense and try to create turnovers and not give second-chance shots, and then push the ball from that standpoint, where last year I would create our offense from our pressure on defense from picking them up full-court."

After the tournament, the Tigers will face rival Opelika, which is set to jump to 7A next year and compete against Auburn High again in region play. 

"It brings back some different challenges, but we're excited to have them back," said Brandt. "It's going to start back like it used to be."

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