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Prep girls hoops: Centurions lose to division’s No. 2 seed

Posted: February 20, 2013 10:22 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2013 10:22 p.m.
 

Outmatched and undersized, the Saugus Centurions girls basketball team was defeated by the Murrieta Valley Nighthawks 51-35 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIA playoffs Wednesday at Saugus High.

Limited by its lack of size underneath, the Centurions were forced to shoot mainly from the perimeter and finished 12-of-62 from the field against the bracket’s No. 2-seeded Nighthawks.

“They were better,” said Saugus head coach Kent Eaton of the opponent. “It’s tough to go against 6 foot, 6 foot, and 5-foot-11 when our girls are 5-foot-9.”

Eaton was referring to the Nighthawks’ Karen Wolf, Brynn Dahner, and Simone Jimerson, each of whom played a large role in controlling the paint in the team’s two-three zone defense.

“We had to shoot from the outside. We couldn’t take it inside because we knew they were going to (block) that stuff,” Eaton said.

The Centurions (15-14) combined to shoot 4-of-27 from behind the arc as the zone continued to push them away from the basket.

When Saugus did attack the basket, a Nighthawk defender was always in the area to contest the shot.

“It’s great to have size, and they love to battle,” said Murrieta Valley head coach Scott Richards Jr. “Our guards played so well that it opened up things inside for them (offensively in the second half).”

Wolf scored 14 in the game, including nine points in the second half.

Point guard Ariana Hernandez led the way with a game-high 16 points, while small forward Deshea Wilkes finished with 15.

Hernandez hit each of her first five shots, and finished shooting 6-of-7 in the game.

“She’s a great sophomore point guard, and mature beyond her years,” Richards Jr. said.

Faye Osburn and Rachel Eaton led the Centurions in scoring as they both recorded 10 points, while Alexa
Ferrante added seven.

The Centurions showed some fight in the fourth quarter by forcing Murrietta Valley (23-5) into 10 turnovers in the period.

Saugus’ effort in the final period could be viewed as a microcosm of the entire season.

Picked to finish near the bottom of the Foothill League before the season, the Centurions battled to finish tied for third in league, and earned a postseason bid.

“This has been a fantastic season. We overachieved,” Eaton said. “People had us fifth in league (before the season) and we finished in third. We competed with a lot of teams, and beyond that, I’m proud of our girls and the way they fought day in and day out.”

Saugus is losing seven of its players to graduation and will look to rebuild if the team is going to make its third straight appearance to the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs in 2014.

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