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Prep basketball: Saugus can still play D

New group of players inherit defensive style quickly in Centurions’ victory

Posted: December 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus forward Jacob Dawe, center, wrestles for a rebound against a pair of Eastside defenders on Wednesday night at Canyon High School.

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The method is always the same for Saugus boys basketball, even if most of the players are different.

With gobs of new starters on the roster, the Centurions still played their signature hard-nosed defense and spread the ball around nicely.

It was a winning recipe in Saugus’ 73-42 season-opening win over Eastside of Lancaster on Wednesday in the first round of the Canyon Classic tournament at Canyon High School.

All 14 of Saugus’ rostered players made it into the game and 11 of them scored to help the Centurions (1-0) pull away in the second quarter.

“That’s what we do,” said Saugus head coach Derek Ballard. “With the style of play that we play, there’s no way just five guys are going to be able to play. It takes way too much energy.”

Junior Amir Mirtabatabaie led Saugus with 11 points, which were all scored before the fourth quarter.

Adding to that were senior forwards Garrett Harding and Jacob Dawe, who found ways to get open under the basket consistently and scored nine points apiece.

Those two did what the Lions (0-1) were unable to do most of the game as Saugus overloaded its zone defense to one particular side to prevent Eastide players from driving.

Eastide was instead forced to take a lot of outside shots, which proved unsuccessful as the Lions made just 2-of-17 3-pointers.

“It got away in the second quarter,” said Eastside head coach Jesse Parker. “We kind of lost our defensive intensity and turned it over.”

Though the Centurions led just 20-17 after the first quarter, their high-intensity defense led to 14 Eastside turnovers in the first half and eventually a 20-3 Saugus run to end the second quarter.

Saugus then led 42-22 at the break.

“Once we figured out how good we are, we got it together,” Mirtabatabaie said. “We started playing defense and that led to easy shots.”

Dominique Bailey scored a game-high 15 points for the Lions, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for Saugus’ well-distributed scoring on the other end.

No matter who rotated in for the Centurions, it didn’t seem to disrupt the flow. Seniors Jeff Ashburn and lone returning starter Chris Lockwood each scored seven points and three more players added five each.

“That’s the kind of team we are,” Mirtabatabaie said. “We don’t have one person who is going to make all the shots.”

In the third quarter, Saugus continued to run up the lead, scoring a quick 10 points and building to a 52-25 advantage midway through the third quarter.

Eastside, which shot 28 percent in the game, never found its footing offensively after that.

Saugus plays Lancaster in the next round of the tournament today at 4:30 p.m.

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