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Intervention for Saugus Is Divine

Posted: February 6, 2008 11:29 a.m.
Updated: April 8, 2008 2:02 a.m.

Saugus High's Mario Wright (45) dunks as Canyon's Johnathan Lawson (50) tries to defend Tuesday night at Canyon High School.

 
It's been a long time since 1983.

Saugus High boys basketball head coach Jeff Hallman was a personnel supervisor at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Michael Cassio wasn't even born yet.
But after a controversial call and two of the clutchest free throws by Cassio with time expired, the Centurions are closer to their first league title since Duran Duran was fashionable.
Saugus defeated Canyon at the Cowboys' Brickhouse 54-53 Tuesday, maintaining a first place tie with Valencia in the Foothill League with one game to play each.
The Centurions (21-4, 7-2) play fifth-place Hart on the road Friday.
"I was just nervous. I was shaking," Cassio said about the free throws. "I had a fear I was losing Foothill League. It got to me."
Cassio's arrival to the line came with much disappointment for Canyon (13-11, 4-4).
After Cowboy Ronny Cox lassoed a loose ball and made a shot in one motion to give the Cowboys a 53-52 lead with 2.8 seconds to play, Saugus called a timeout.
With a play intended for Mark Watanabe and Cameron Diorio halted, Cassio found the ball and drove baseline, only to draw a foul on Canyon's Tere Adams as 0:00 showed on the game clock.
Canyon fans stormed the court in celebration, thinking the game was over, but they were brushed off the court for Cassio's free throws.
The referee who made the call, Owen Healey, did not see eye-to-eye with Canyon head coach Chad Phillips throughout the game.
Phillips said it was no surprise that Healey made the call.
"I really think we got the wrong end of the deal," Phillips said. "It was a personal vendetta against me. (Healey) broke a lot of hearts. He was wrong."
But Cassio still had to make the free throws.
He was perfect on both, despite the shakes.
Joey Dietrich was perfect 1:23 earlier.
He hit a 3-pointer on the right elbow to cut Canyon's lead to one at 51-50.
More importantly, he drew a foul on Canyon point guard Mark Lewis - his fifth, ending his night.
Dietrich hit the ensuing free throw to tie the game at 51-51.
Lewis wasn't the only Cowboy player to exit the game early.
Center Cody Anderson did, too.
With 2:07 to play in the third quarter, Anderson charged to the basket and was fouled by Mario Wright.
Anderson banged his head on the way down, suffering a large cut above his left eye.
He didn't play another second.
With the top two scorers in the league gone, it should have been a formality that Saugus would win - should have.
The Cowboys supporting cast, though, not only hung with the co-league leaders, they outplayed them much of the way down the stretch.
Stepping up the biggest was Jonathan Lawson.
The athletic forward scored a game-high 16 points.
But he too fouled out in the fourth quarter.
A close game throughout, Saugus' biggest lead was six points (in the second quarter) and Canyon's was four points (in the fourth quarter). It all came down to a flurry in the final minute.
Mitch Weber's free throw with 48.8 seconds left gave the Centurions a 52-21 lead.
Then Wright, who led the Cents with 14 points including a thunderous second-quarter dunk, fouled out.
Canyon failed on the front end of a one-and-one then Saugus missed.
Adams dribbled to the hole and the ball slipped up in the air. That's when Cox made a huge shot.
A smile wrapped around his face as he went to the bench, following a Saugus timeout.
"We knew there was time. It was a little scary," Cox said.
Seconds later, his smile went from wide to gone.
Hallman said at this point, he's starting to believe in divine intervention.
It was one week ago that Wright hit a half-court buzzer beater to beat West Ranch.
Now this.
"There's some weird things happening," Hallman said. "Mario hits the 3-point banker, this was unbelievable. It's a culmination of what they've done all year."
Saugus had a chance to win a league title in 2005.
All it had to do was beat Hart in the final game of league play.
The Centurions lost.
Here we go again.


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