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Cents hassle the Hoff

Saugus advances to Valencia tourney’s title game

Posted: December 4, 2008 10:07 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2008 4:55 a.m.
 
One night after surviving a physical battle against Taft, the Saugus girls basketball team found much less resistance from Nordhoff.

Saugus shot 57 percent in the first half and overpowered Nordhoff 66-40 Thursday at the Valencia High Five Classic at Valencia High School.

The Centurions (3-0) advanced to the tournament championship game by playing excellent defense and moving well without the ball in their motion offense, which staked them to a 22-point lead at halftime. Once they built that lead, however, the emotion seemed to slip a bit.

“Early on, we were moving well,” said Saugus head coach Kent Eaton. “As the game went on and the lead increased, the girls were less motivated. They don’t want to crush anybody. We got a little sloppy.”

Saugus buried Nordhoff (0-3) with is pressure defense the entire first half. The Rangers didn’t score until there were 25 seconds left in the first quarter, but coach Ted Cotti said that kind of challenge is why his team came to the tournament.

“We knew we were coming to the tournament to play much bigger teams,” he said, “and we talked already before the games even started. We’re just here to get better. We’re working on our stuff, not worrying about what the other team’s doing or how good they are.”

The Centurions were very good up until midway through the third quarter, when the huge advantage caused them to relax. Nordhoff’s offense had long since broken down into one-on-one because it couldn’t hit enough shots to break Saugus’ zone, but Eaton still saw things his team could improve on.

“Defensively, we can learn to communicate a little bit better and keep each other motivated a little bit more,” he said.

The Rangers hadn’t hit a single 3-pointer yet coming into the game, but they hit five against Saugus, including a pair from Carmen Cotsis.

Because its tallest player is just 6-feet-tall, Nordhoff still needed more long jumpers to fall.

“We were 0-for-40 from three before this game, but we shoot them,” Cotti said.

Offensively, Saugus’ skill showed up early in the third quarter when its pressure defense yielded several turnovers that led to easy baskets in transition, including a couple from Nicole Hicks, who led all scorers with 14 points.

Once in the half court, the Centurions routinely found open shooters and hit 77 percent of their shots in the third quarter to quell any thoughts of a comeback.

Cotsis paced Nordhoff with 12 points, while Makayla Morrison added 10.

Gabby Conn finished with 12 points and Katelyn Smither had 10 for Saugus, which advances to the High Five Classic championship game.

It will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday at Valencia High School. The start time was moved up from 7:30 p.m. because of Valencia’s football game that night.

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