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Prep basketball: Little finish, but big start

Saugus builds 37-12 halftime lead then hangs on for victory

Posted: December 29, 2010 10:29 p.m.
Updated: December 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Saugus guard Ryan Webb, far right, struggles past a host of Grant defenders as forward Mitch Davis (42) looks on in the Hart Holiday Classic at Hart High on Wednesday.

 

Sometimes, a rough stretch can teach a team an important lesson.

Fortunately for Saugus boys basketball, that lesson was learned in a winning effort.

The lesson: play for four quarters.

A dominant first half was enough for the Centurions to hang on for a 60-53 victory over Grant of Van Nuys Wednesday night in the Hart Holiday Classic at Hart High.

It was enough to earn Saugus a berth in the championship game, which will be played at 7:30 p.m. today.

The Centurions (11-4) played aggressive defense and scored points in transition in the first half, eventually opening a 37-12 halftime lead.

From that point on, Grant slowly chipped away at the margin and took advantage of cold Saugus shooting to get as close as 59-53 with 17 seconds remaining.

“We started the second half like the game was already over,” said Centurions head coach Derek Ballard. “So we were flat.”

Right off the bat, the Lancers (4-9) began the comeback attempt by hitting their first three shots of the third quarter, two of which were 3-pointers.

After shooting 4-for-25 before the break, Grant improved to 22-for-58 overall in the game.

Saugus, on the other hand, struggled to make the transition shots it was making in the first half, but was kept alive by Brad Buchignani’s timely shooting.

The senior guard led the Centurions with 15 points, which all came off threes.

Despite the performance, the Lancers were the aggressors in the second half on both ends of the court.

“It happens a lot,” said Grant head coach Howard Levine. “I think Saugus’ intensity level came way down and we found a few hot hands.”

Grant’s 6-foot-8 center Gor Plavchyan was the hottest hand of all, scoring 21 points including 17 in the second half.

The Lancers fed him the ball in the post throughout the night, which created matchup problems for Saugus.

“He made it difficult on us because we didn’t have anyone his size, so we had to double him,” Ballard said. “When they started making some outside shots, it made it tough.”

Before things went awry for Saugus, it was a one-sided affair in both scoring and rebounding.

Grant didn’t make a shot until the 3:26 mark in the first quarter and the Centurions went on a 17-0 run during a stretch in the second quarter.

Saugus guard Jeremy Gatewood had 12 points and forward Mitch Davis chipped in with 10.

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