Saugus girls basketball has skill, but it still has to find its swag.
“A lot of girls don’t show any emotion out there,” said coach Jason Conn. “So I tell them, you’ve got to find your swag and go with it. We’re an up-tempo team, we like to press and I think the energy from pressing allows them to come up with easy baskets.”
The Centurions are well on their way to reaching that goal after winning the Northeast Valley Tournament, beating Westlake, Grant, Vaughn and North Hollywood teams in the process.
Additionally, they were ranked second in Division 3A in this week’s CIF-Southern Section polls.
Conn credits the early-season success to a brutal offseason workout plan that featured plenty of time in the weight room and an ample amount of running.
“We weren’t in very good shape last year at all nor during the summer,” said Conn. “Then September hit and we went hard.”
The Cents (7-1) focused on fundamentals, too, to sharpen a young team comprised of one freshman, five sophomores, three juniors and two seniors.
Sophomore Libbie McMahan may have committed to UC Davis for softball in early December, but she’s pacing Saugus with 16 points and six rebounds per game, according to Conn.
“She’s just an all-around athlete,” he said. “Basketball is her thing, too. She shoots outside, she scores inside and she just loves playing the game.”
Monique Febles is another sophomore at the front of the pack. The point guard excels at calling players, running the offense and running the press.
Although Eden MacKenzie is the lone freshman, she’s quickly adapting to the varsity game. Conn estimates she’s currently averaging seven points per game.
“She’s well-poised for being a freshman and never played varsity basketball and she’s off to a great start.”
The Centurions begin league play at Valencia on Jan. 9. Conn is eager to get the league season rolling and see the developments his team makes.
“It’s a blessing having all young players who are playing so well,” said Conn. “They’ve got a lot of learning to do and by the time they’re juniors and seniors, oh my goodness. Because these girls aren’t’ quitting basketball any time soon.”