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Still standing

Saugus trails at halftime, then gets breathing room

Posted: February 20, 2009 1:47 a.m.
Updated: February 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus' Nicole Hicks (23) drives to the basket against Peninsula's Tiffany Hashimoto Thursday at Saugus High in the CIF-SS Div. IIA playoffs.

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Saugus girls basketball survived a scare in its first round CIF Southern Section Division IIA game against Palos Verdes Peninsula Thursday night.

After trailing early in the second half, the Centurions rallied past the Panthers for a 59-43 win.

“In the second half we went after it,” said Saugus head coach Kent Eaton. “We stepped up on defense and denied the shots they got in the first half. We knew they could hit outside shots, but when we were able to deny the interior they weren’t able to get much going.”

Saugus struggled to shut down Peninsula (11-17) early in the first quarter, but the Cents (16-11) strung together an 8-0 run to close the first eight minutes and snag a 14-10 lead.

However, Peninsula was resilient, taking a 25-23 edge into the half.

“The one thing I can always count on with this team is that they will work until the end and never give up,” said Peninsula head coach Natalie Kelly. “Saugus just did a good job tonight of taking us out of our game.”

Saugus started taking the Panthers out of their game two minutes into the second half when the Centurions strung together a 13-0 spurt to turn a five-point Peninsula lead into an eight-point spread for the Cents.

“We just needed to get after them and work on our rebounding,” said senior Nicole Hicks, who poured in a game-high 25 points. “It’s a big win for us, and we’re all excited to be moving on.”

Gabrielle Conn also chipped in 20 for Saugus, while Paige Murata led the Panthers with eight.

After taking a seven-point lead into the fourth, Saugus dominated the final frame, opening on an 8-0 burst that effectively put the game out of reach for Peninsula.

“We found the desire to defend the dribble in the second half,” Eaton said. “Gabby and Nicole stepped up for us, and the rest of our starters really played well, too. Plus, we got good contributions from our role players.”

Saugus draws the winner of Glendora versus Newbury Park in the next round.

“Either team we play is going to make it a tough game,” Eaton said. “But if we keep playing our game like we played in the second half, then I think we’ll have a chance. Any time you can put five players on the floor playing the way our girls played tonight, that makes a tough team to beat.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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