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Knights Duo Does In Cents

Posted: February 20, 2008 1:28 a.m.
Updated: April 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Saugus High point guard Michael Cassio, right, looks up at the scoreboard as he dribbles against Bishop Montgomery Tuesday at Bishop Montgomery in the CIF-Southern Section Division II-AA second round.

TORRANCE - Two players do not normally win a game for a team, but when two players stand at 6-foot-6 and the opposing team's starting center is out with an injury, it could make for a long night.

With starting center Cameron Diorio out due to an ankle injury that he sustained in Saugus' first-round victory over Burroughs, and with an overmatched Mario Wright and Mitch Weber left to handle two outstanding Bishop Montgomery big men, it turned out to be just that for the 12th-seeded Centurions boys basketball team Tuesday night.

Saugus could not come up with an answer to Bishop Montgomery's tandem of Aaron Ware and Leland Jones, who would have been a load to handle even with Diorio in the lineup. The end result was a 70-58 defeat at the hands of the No. 6 Knights at Bishop Montgomery High School in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs.

The Centurions came out hard and set the pace early on, putting the Knights back on their heels. Saugus was able to spread the floor and scored nearly all of their points in the quarter off layups on back-door plays. Senior Forward Mitch Weber dominated the play early on with eight first-quarter points as the Cents led 17-13 after one.

"We were getting what we wanted, they played a man-to-man and our game plan worked," said Saugus head coach Jeff Hallman.

The second quarter turned out to be a completely different story however, as the Centurions offense began to unravel.
Bishop Montgomery's defense put pressure on Saugus' ball-handlers and forced numerous turnovers which led directly to Knight scores.

"The back-door play was open in the first quarter and we were executing it, but they came out hard in the second and their big men took it to us," Weber said.

With Wright and Kyle Eaton - the Centurions' tallest players - in foul trouble all game long, Bishop Montgomery's Ware looked like a man amongst boys, as Saugus had no match for the powerful forward.

Ware had 14 points in the quarter and finished the night with a game-high 23, as the Knights opened up a halftime lead of 34-25.

With an inbound pass to himself off Saugus' Joey Dietrich's back and a thunderous one-handed dunk, Bishop Montgomery's Jones single-handedly took over the game in the third quarter and helped seal the Centurions' fate.

"After we took away their back-cut play, they didn't have much left. We came out hard and took over the game," Jones said.

With a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, there was not much the Centurions offense could have done. With Ware sitting for the rest of the night, Jones picked up the slack and finished up with 22 points on 12 of 13 shooting and two free-throws as Jones and Ware combined for 45 points.

Throughout the second half the Knights basically gave Saugus shooters the open jump shot but the Centurion offense chose to defer the ball nearly every time.

"They got on us harder and played physical defense," Hallman said. "The pressure and fatigue makes you do things you don't want to."

Hallman went on to add that the tough defense may have gotten into the heads of Centurion shooters.

With the game well in hand, the Centurions rallied to pull within 12 points, thanks in part to Joey Dietrich and Saugus point guard Michael Cassio, who finished with 13 and eight points, respectively.

In the end it proved to be as close as they would get.

Weber ended with a team-high 18 points in the defeat.

With the victory over the Centurions, Bishop Montgomery will next play against No. 13 seeded La Habra Friday night in the quarterfinals.


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