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Prep basketball: Cents snare third place

Saugus beats Wildcats to finish league on 5-1 tear

Posted: February 10, 2011 10:53 p.m.
Updated: February 10, 2011 10:53 p.m.

Saugus’ Megan Dawe (11) shoots as Wildcats Kaylie Fandino (3) and Hannah Green defend on Thursday at West Ranch.

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At one point, Saugus girls basketball was 1-3 in the Foothill League.

Now, it has assured itself a playoff spot and a third-place finish after hanging on for a 56-52 win over West Ranch on Thursday at West Ranch High School.

The Centurions used a combination of strong post play and timely shooting to keep the Wildcats at arm’s length the entire game in both teams’ regular-season finales.

Saugus (13-14, 6-4) never gave up the lead in the game, but didn’t have an easy time pulling away from a relentless West Ranch team, which made it 54-52 with six seconds left after a Kaylie Fandino putback.

After quickly being fouled on the inbound play, Saugus junior Megan Dawe sunk both of her free throws at the other end to end the threat.

Dawe scored a game-high 23 points.

“All I can do is put the girls in that I think can handle the situation the best, and hope they do,” said Saugus head coach Kent Eaton.

Turns out they did, and the Centurions finished the season winning five of its last six games in league play.

For the Wildcats (16-9, 5-5), the loss leaves them in fourth place and hoping for an at-large bid.

Throughout the game, West Ranch struggled to find an answer for Saugus’ combination of 6-foot-2 wing Kim Smither and the 6-foot Dawe, who worked the low post all night long.

“They run everything around Dawe,” said West Ranch head coach Randy Smith. “I would too if I had a player like her.”
In the first half, the Centurions made a point to get Dawe the ball, which usually resulted in either a basket or a trip to the free-throw line.

That helped Saugus jumped ahead 12-0 out of the gate.

Like they did throughout the game, the Wildcats roared back by picking up the tempo offensively and creating turnovers on defense.

By halftime, West Ranch had dug into the lead and trailed just 32-29.

“It was two quarters of good play and two quarters of bad,” Smith said.

Unfortunately for Smith, the bad quarters came after halftime, as the Wildcats couldn’t get past the zone defense.
Saugus outscored West Ranch 13-4 in the third quarter to take a 45-33 lead.

“If we don’t have the rebounding, we’re in trouble,” Eaton said. “In the second half, when we took care of the ball, we produced offensively.”

Dawe was helped by teammate Jordan Oster, who made four 3-pointers on her way to 13 points.

West Ranch continued to attack though, and started hitting its own shots from long range in the final minutes.

Junior Michele Arima scored 10 of her team-high 17 points in the final frame during the Wildcats’ last gasp.

The Centurions weathered one last storm though, and will await their playoff matchup.

“I’m confident. I actually like where we’re seeded,” Eaton said. “I think those three and four seeds from some of the other conferences, I think we’re better than them.”


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