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Saugus rains down threes

Cents improve to 2-0 in league

Posted: January 16, 2009 11:08 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2009 4:58 a.m.
Physical play and hot outside shooting keyed Saugus to a 70-63 win over West Ranch on Friday night at home.

The Centurions hit 12-of-16 3-pointers, led by Noel Mansour’s seven treys, while their pressing defense held the bigger Wildcats to just 2-of-20 from beyond the arc.

“I was pleased with our composure, our mental toughness and just our heart in general,” said Saugus head coach Derek Ballard. “Any time you play a league game, it’s big to get a win, but we still just need to take it one game at a time.”

If Saugus (10-8, 2-0) can maintain the effort and intensity they showed on Friday then they may be working one game at a time toward being a major factor in the Foothill League.

Hustle plays were a major key for the Centurions as junior Joey Fredrick tallied five blocks, and senior point guard Mark Watanabe had four steals to go along with his 17 points and four assists.

“We’re really starting to build some momentum,” Watanabe said. “Our coaches have taught us how to play a physical game and that showed tonight. This was our type of game.”

Saugus may have gotten the win, but the highlight of the first half was a tomahawk dunk from West Ranch senior Hakeem Bradley, who finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds for the second straight game.

“That dunk really set the tone of the game for me,” Bradley said. “I knew it was going be a tough game, and we had to go in and battle.”

The battling nature of the game led to both teams reaching the double bonus with more than five minutes left in a back-and-forth first half that closed with the Centurions ahead 33-32 behind Mansour’s first 13 of his 27 points.

“Noel’s a great shooter,” Ballard said. “He’s kind of an undiscovered talent at this point, but as long as he gets the ball we know he’s going to make shots.”

The game stayed tight into the fourth quarter before Saugus was able to open up a 60-50 lead at the 5:01 mark on Mansour’s sixth three of the game.

“Saugus deserves all the credit for this win,” said West Ranch head coach Sean LeGaux. “They played harder than us. We knew they were small and scrappy, and we just weren’t able to match them tonight.”

After stretching the lead to double figures, Saugus looked like it was ready to close out the Wildcats (12-6, 1-1), but the Centurions missed the front end of three straight one-and-one opportunities at the line. The errant free throws allowed West Ranch to cut the lead to four with 29 seconds left, but the Wildcats failed to draw any closer as Saugus closed out its seven-point victory.

“It’s good to win, but we started out 2-0 last year, and then we lost our next game,” Mansour said. “We know we have to stay focused on each game.”

Saugus’ next game is against Golden Valley, while the Wildcats are slated to host Valenica on Tuesday.

“The key for us is maintaining our focus and dedication,” Ballard said. “We are starting to put it together, but we know every night out there is going to be crazy.”


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