Saugus High snatched a share of second place in the Foothill League in stunning fashion Friday night at Golden Valley High School.
The Centurions needed a second-half surge to secure the 69-57 win over the Grizzlies, riding a stout defense that caused problems for the home team throughout the final two quarters.
“Our coaching staff did a great job at halftime, challenging the team to step up their effort and intensity,” said Saugus coach Bill Bedgood.
Trailing 40-29 entering the third frame, Saugus (16-8 overall, 5-3 in Foothill) set the defensive tone in the first 30 seconds, forcing an early Golden Valley timeout. From there the Centurions created six turnovers and outscored the Grizzlies 19-7, leading to a 48-47 fourth quarter advantage.
With 5:30 remaining in the final quarter, Golden Valley’s Milan Taylor fouled out after fouling Zach Phipps and picking up a technical foul for his response to the call.
The sequence of events gave Phipps four free-throws, all of which found the bottom of the net en route to a 14-point fourth quarter for the senior, helping Saugus score 21 points to set the final score.
Phipps finished the game with 28 points.
“Keep being relaxed and knock them down,” Phipps said in reference to his four free-throws in a row. “You just have to have confidence.”
With Richard Kawakami picking up two early fouls, Taylor took the reigns by scoring eight points in the opening quarter as the Grizzlies jumped out to a 20-13 lead. Taylor finished the game with 11 points.
Golden Valley (11-14, 4-4) continued their scorching start in a second quarter that saw Josh Jehnings score nine points, allowing the Grizzlies to the close the half on an 18-10 run after Saugus cut the score to 22-19.
Golden Valley will look to snap its two-game losing streak when its travels to Hart on Tuesday to take on the Foothill leading Indians.
With the win, Saugus is 4-0 on the road and will try and continue this trend when it travels to Valencia on Tuesday in a battle between the league’s second place teams.