By Maurice Patton
SANTA FE – After scoring more than 1,000 points during his three-year middle school basketball career, Auden Slaughter took a significant step Thursday night toward accomplishing a similar feat at the high school level.
In his sixth varsity contest, the Santa Fe eighth-grader came off the bench and hit five 3-pointers, finishing with a career-high 28 points – outscoring his brother, junior Andy, in the process – as the Wildcats defeated visiting Mt. Pleasant 66-29 in District 10-A play.
“I gotta brag about it,” Auden said after Andy scored 19 points (moving to within 72 of 1,000 for his career). “I don’t get to do that too much.”
As the hosts unveiled a revamped lineup, Auden was the first player off the bench Thursday and didn’t take long to get into the scoring column – hitting a short jumper from the left baseline off an assist from his brother at the 1:07 mark of the opening quarter to double a 12-10 lead, then adding his first career trey 14 seconds later.
“I was, like, 0-for-10 from 3 before that,” he said. “I’d kept practicing at home. I finally hit a few and contributed.”
Santa Fe (4-6, 3-2) scored twice more before the end of the period, finishing with nine unanswered points to make it a 21-10 game, and the Tigers never had an answer.
“They made 14 3s the last time we played,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Carney said. “We wanted to try to get them off the 3-point line. We hadn’t played a lot of man (-to-man defense) this season. We wanted to play man. … Defensively, we weren’t very good; offensively, we were worse.”
With posts Chandler Hughes and Kyler Baker unavailable, Chris Andrews was the Tigers’ only interior presence. Santa Fe only had the five treys from young Slaughter, but the Wildcats were able to get into the paint and to the rim on drives, meeting little resistance when they got there.
“We’ve been experimenting with our starting lineup,” coach Brad Slaughter said. “We went small. I like that look. We spaced the floor more. I thought the guys executed really well. I thought we did a really good job executing the game plan on both ends.”
Much of that offensive execution ended with Slaughter baskets, with Andy penetrating and Auden connecting from distance. The two teamed for 20 of Santa Fe’s 30 points en route to a 14-point halftime advantage.
Coming out of the break, Auden took over, scoring in the halfcourt, in transition and knocking down a trio of treys in an 18-point third-period outburst.
“In middle school, I was going for the drives,” said Auden, who hadn’t scored more than nine points in a varsity game previously. “Now, I knew I had to mix my game up because I’m playing against bigger and stronger people. I needed to focus on my midrange, my 3s and my drive.”
“We’ve been trying to build his confidence at this level,” Brad said. “As an eighth-grader, I had nothing but people telling me I needed to play him more, and his teammates telling him he needs to shoot more.
“We know he can be outstanding for us.”
Thursday, he was that.
“He’s going to be a really good player,” Carney said after Mt. Pleasant slipped to 7-10 (2-4). “He may already be a really good player.”
“We’ve been waiting for it to happen,” Andy said. “I think he’s ready to go.
“I’m not going to hear the end of it.”
Santa Fe 66, Mt. Pleasant 29
MP 10 6 7 6 – 29
SF 21 9 20 16 – 66
Mt. Pleasant (29) – Keevan Cooper 4, Kentra Frierson 6, Tip Marlow 6, Chris Andrews 7, Demarkus Brown 3, Gavin Alderson 2, Bennett Hughes 1
Santa Fe (66) – Colton Steward 4, Will Monhollen 4, Westin McClanahan 2, Andy Slaughter 19, Auden Slaughter 28, Tanner Bryan 2, Logan Wilkins 2, Macon Adkison 2, Austin Hazlett 2, Evan Mote 1
3-pointers – Mt. Pleasant 3 (Frierson 2, Brown), Santa Fe 5 (Au. Slaughter 5)