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Prep boys hoops: Cents’ fresh start

Saugus picks up first league win

Posted: January 19, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 19, 2013 1:55 a.m.
 

Whether or not this game could be considered a must-win for Saugus boys basketball, the Centurions certainly played like it.

After losing three straight games in frustrating fashion to open Foothill League play, Saugus turned its anger into a gritty defensive effort, thwarting Canyon 53-29 on Friday night at Saugus High School.

“We’ve had an unlucky streak. We’re losing games by a little bit, all these heart breakers,” said Saugus head coach Derek Ballard. “So it’s like, ‘How are we going to respond?’”

The Centurions (11-10 overall, 1-3 in league) answered that question in a hurry, sprinting out to an early lead and turning the game into a blowout by halftime.

Canyon (11-9, 1-3) never led, and it trailed by as many as 33 points before slightly closing the gap in the fourth quarter. The 29 points were a season low for Canyon.

Amir Mirtabatabaie and Jacob Tobon co-led Saugus with 12 points each, with Mirtabatabaie adding six rebounds and Tobon adding two assists and a steal.

Early on, Saugus was scoring inside with good ball movement and accurate passing.

Saugus also rebounded well and got a lot of points on second chances.

“We preach hustle plays, because you can win games with plays like that,” Tobon said.

Lockwood scored seven points and added five rebounds and three steals for a Centurion defense that forced 22 Canyon turnovers.

“Come out hard,” Mirtabatabaie said of Saugus’ defensive effort. “That’s our normal defense. We always preach defense in practice.”

The game started to lean toward the Centurions when Chris Lockwood buried a 3-pointer just before the first-quarter buzzer to give his team a 20-9 lead.

That’s when it really got bad for the Cowboys, who went 0-for-10 in the second quarter on their way to being outscored 15-1 in the frame.

That made it a 35-10 score at halftime. Saugus had just one turnover at that point in the game.

Canyon head coach Sean DeLong summed up his team’s offensive struggles simply.

“Everything,” DeLong said of what was going wrong. “We shot horrible. We turned the ball over.”

In all, Canyon shot 23.1 percent.

Ben Taufahema and Devin Baldwin each scored seven points to lead the Cowboys, who have now lost three Foothill games in a row after beating Golden Valley in their opener.

“Our job is to get better,” DeLong said. “I’m not worried about who we’re playing or wins or losses.”

Saugus, on the other hand, has found new life after snapping its skid.

“We looked at this game as an 0-0 start, a fresh start,” Mirtabatabaie said.

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