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Saugus girls basketball: Rising expectations

Saugus uses height and experience to roll Nordhoff in season opener

Posted: December 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Saugus High’s Kim Smither (22) goes in for a layup against Nordoff High School at Valencia on Wednesday. The Centurions won their first game of the Valencia High Five Classic by defeating the Rangers 68-21.

After finishing last season in third place and as the only Foothill League team to defeat league champion Canyon, the Saugus girls basketball team enters the 2011-12 season with sky-high expectations.

And they have two very big reasons for those: 6-foot senior Megan Dawe and 6-foot, 1-inch senior Kim Smither.

The duo combined for 43 points Wednesday night as the Centurions dominated every facet of the game to defeat an undersized Nordoff High team 68-21 at Valencia High in the Valencia High Five Classic.

The Rangers (0-2) feature just two seniors, and had no one on the roster who could handle the height of Dawe and Smither.

As a result, the Centurions (1-0) were able to open up the game in the first half with a 28-0 run that made it 31-4 and set the tone early.

"(Height) helps," Smither said. "We were able to get the ball down low. It’s a strength of ours."

Smither used that strength to lead the team with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Dawe added 21 points and six assists.

The Centurions shot 57 percent from the floor and used a stifling defense to hold the Rangers to just 16 percent, with junior Savanna Stanley leading Nordhoff with nine points.

Nordhoff senior Emily Heath added seven rebounds.

But despite struggling throughout their first two games of the High Five Classic — the Rangers lost 83-33 to Agoura on Tuesday — first-year head coach Ian Kretzers is happy for the experience.

"I’ll be honest with you," Kretzers said, "I didn’t sign up for this tournament, but I like it. We’re playing teams with size. It’s to get our feet wet."

The Centurions, on the other hand, have a team comprised of five juniors and four seniors and return seven players from last season’s squad.

Needless to say, the experience is already there — and that has given Saugus reason to set its goals high.

"The confidence is high," said Saugus head coach Kent Eaton. "However, our league has got good competition this year. Canyon’s tough, Valencia’s tough and you can’t count out West Ranch. It’s going to be a fun season."

Before league play starts, though, Saugus will use tournaments like the High Five Classic — which runs through Saturday — to help prepare the team for the eventual grind of Foothill League play.

"It’s preseason," Eaton said. "We’re looking to find our rotation, find experience, find who’s going to play what role."

That preparation started Wednesday, and Saugus will look to keep its success going throughout the tournament.

"Saugus wants to win," Smither said. "And we’ll do everything we can to win this."


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