AUBURN — The Maroons received a taste of what their top competition in the Section III, Class A playoffs will look like.
After 32 minutes of play, that taste was bitter.
Auburn girls basketball was downed by Jamesville-DeWitt 77-51 Wednesday at Auburn High School in a match-up of the top two teams in the SCAC Empire Conference.
The Red Rams, currently ranked No. 2 in the state, were as advertised. J-D made every Auburn offensive play feel like a chore, contesting each time the Maroons tried to move upcourt, make a pass or take a shot.
"Their quickness hurt us, and their ability to get to the ball — we were always like a step slow," Auburn coach Al Giannone said. "Their quickness makes it really difficult not only for somebody to score, but to make a pass. Once you turn it over here or there, then you start thinking about the next one, start aiming passes, start second-guessing yourselves instead of just playing. That's what quickness does to you.
"We'll file it away. They're certainly a very good team. We've just got to move on to the next one. We can't really lament on the fact that they got us pretty good."
Auburn did briefly go ahead on J-D in the opening quarter. After the Red Rams started the game on a 6-0 run, the Maroons scored nine straight points to go up 9-6.
The advantage was short-lived. The Red Rams went on a 19-1 run, spanning from the final minutes of the first quarter to midway through the second, to go up 25-10. Auburn's first basket of the second quarter didn't come until there was 3:55 left before halftime on a put-back layup from Doray Dilallo.
J-D, which led 34-19 at halftime, continued to stretch its legs in the second half. The Red Rams had their highest-scoring quarter in the third, outscoring Auburn 23-12 in that frame, before taking out their starters for the entirety of the fourth.
Auburn had two players reach double figures in scoring. Dilallo led the Maroons with 15 points, with nine coming in the second quarter, while Jania Freeman scored 11 and was Auburn's most dangerous scoring threat most of the night.
One major difference between the two teams was 3-point shooting. Auburn only hit the mark once from beyond the arc, and that was a try from Grace Baranick midway through the first quarter. Conversely, J-D knocked down nine 3s.
"Am I surprised? Yeah, a little bit," Giannone said. "They get right out on you and don't give many opportunities at open looks. We struggled at times to score inside too, missed a lot of chippies and you can't do that. When you get an opportunity against these guys, you've got to cash in or you end up losing by 30."
Auburn (12-4) has three more games on the schedule prior to the sectional seeding meeting on Feb. 12, and the Maroons should still land a respectable seed despite Wednesday's setback. Next up is another home game, their final home contest of the regular season, Friday against East-Syracuse Minoa.
The Maroons will also get another crack at Jamesville-DeWitt, this time on the road, in their final game of the regular season next Tuesday. Facing the Red Rams twice in a week, the hope is that the quality of competition will serve as a nice tune-up of what's to come in the tournament.
"I'd enjoy it more if we won," Giannone joked. "You want to play good teams and clearly they're very good. We're trying to get to that level where we're consistently that good. We're getting there, but I like playing against good quality teams like that."