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Saugus plows Sunny Hills

The Centurions never trail in their Division IIAA playoff game

Posted: February 19, 2010 10:28 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Saugus' Joey Fredrick (32) outrebounds Sunny Hills' Kevin Poli, left, Friday at Saugus High.

 
The Saugus High School boys basketball team combined a smothering zone defense in the second half with strong post play and a breakout performance from point guard Jawhar Purdy to trip up Sunny Hills of Fullerton in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs.

With Sunny Hills unable to drop in the three-ball, Purdy steered the Centurions to a 71-56 victory over the Freeway League-champion Lancers Friday night at Saugus High.

With the win, Saugus (18-10) moves on to Tuesday’s quarterfinal round to face the winner of Friday’s second-round matchup between Summit of Fontana and Canyon Springs of Moreno Valley.

In Friday’s contest, Saugus entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead and promptly went on a 9-2 run to essentially put the game away.

With the Centurions employing a 2-3 zone defense that cut off any chance of Sunny Hills penetrating the lane, the Lancers (25-4) clanked one long bomb after another as the Saugus twin-tower duo of Joey Fredrick and Jon Grisanti cleaned up the boards.

Sunny Hills head coach John Wooldridge said his team had experienced some cold shooting nights early in the season, but was able to survive them.

“We’re a perimeter-oriented team — we’ll shoot 30 threes a game and knock down almost half of them,” Wooldridge said. “(Friday night) was just one of those nights, playoffs, new gym, and we just didn’t knock them down.”

Purdy kept the Centurions’ offense in high gear for most of the night as he darted down the court to set up Fredrick, Grisanti and fellow guards Brad Buchignani and Jeremy Gatewood.

Saugus head coach Derek Ballard said it was the kind of game he’s been looking for from the 5-foot, 10-inch senior, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

“These last two games, Jawhar has been a completely different player,” Ballard said. “He’s more confident, he’s smarter with the basketball, makes better decisions and he’s explosive. We’ve been waiting for that, and it’s finally come.”

Purdy electrified the crowd when he threw a fast-break bounce pass half the distance of the court to Gatewood, who put a spin move on a Lancer defender before banking home an easy layup. The play extended Saugus’ lead to 20 points with 3:22 left to play.

The Centurions pushed out to an early 7-0 lead and used a pair of off-balance runners from Buchignani to close out the first quarter with a 12-6 advantage. The junior finished with 15 points, including three rainmakers from beyond the arc.

“He’s a kid who has no conscience on the basketball court,” Ballard said of Buchignani. “In these types of games, you need those kids to step up and win ballgames. He’ll shoot from anywhere on the floor, and he doesn’t care what people think about it.”

Fredrick and Grisanti each picked up their third foul in the second quarter, but the Centurion reserves kept up the defensive pressure, and Saugus took a 28-22 lead into the break.

Fredrick poured in a game-high 18 points, mostly around the rim, and pulled down 15 rebounds.

“We hustled and we just got the job done,” Fredrick said. “We dominated on defense, and they couldn’t do anything down in the post.”

Gatewood added 13 points and Grisanti pulled down eight rebounds.

Sunny Hills senior forward Kevin Poli, his team’s tallest starter at 6 feet 1, paced the Lancers with 12 points.

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