At a summer tournament in Santa Barbara, Saugus coach Alfredo Manzano recalls sitting down his plethora of talented sophomores, outlining their importance in sending the team’s senior class out on a positive note.
Those sophomores powered Saugus to an 86-74 win at Hart on Tuesday night, headlined by a team-high 18 points from Adrian McIntyre and 17 points from Tyler Mehl.
“We just knew it was going to be our seniors’ last time playing here, so we wanted to get them that win because it meant so much to them,” McIntyre said. “We also knew didn’t want to close out the first round of league under .500.”
While McIntyre was the Cents’ leading scorer, it was Mehl who helped them jump out to a 42-21 lead at intermission, including a 17-0 run to close out the final four minutes of the half.
Mehl had 14 of his points in the first half while hitting four 3s but battled foul trouble for most of the second half and eventually fouled out.
“Some days, I can’t buy a single shot,” Mehl said. “Then some days like today, I can shoot from anywhere and it feels like it’s going to go in.”
To close out the game, Saugus (15-6, 3-2 Foothill League) yet again relied on a sophomore. Cameron Nale went 8 of 10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points. Senior Luke Bodeau had 12 points to go with a team-high 10 rebounds and eight assists. Fellow senior Dylan Spring had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Hart (15-7, 3-2) crept within eight points in the fourth quarter but that’s as close as it would get. Biola signee Whitten Dominguez did not suit up for the contest due to a hip injury.
“We quit in the first half,” said Hart coach Tom Kelly. “We didn’t come out and compete. We didn’t play until late in the third quarter. That’s not what championship teams do.”
Luca Robinson led Hart with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Carson Weiss finished with 15 points.
A 3-pointer and four-point play from Caleb Waldeck gave Hart life early in the fourth quarter. But the Indians still trailed by double digits for nearly the entire second half.
“We knew the game was far from over at the half, especially when you have only two seniors getting a lot of minutes,” said Manzano. “The seniors did a nice job reminding the younger guys how tough Hart is when it’s playing at home, and they responded and finished.”
Saugus hosts Valencia on Friday while Hart hosts Golden Valley.
West Ranch 62, Golden Valley 51
West Ranch finished out the first round of league play with its second straight win as Austin Galuppo and Andrew Austin each tallied 20 points. Galuppo grabbed a team-high seven rebounds while Austin picked up six rebounds.
Alex Grant added six points and six rebounds for the Wildcats.
West Ranch (13-6, 3-2) will hit the road to play Canyon (4-16, 0-5) on Friday.
Valencia 77, Canyon 42
Josh Assiff led Valencia (8-12, 4-1) with 15 points as it finished the first round of league play alone atop the standings.
Zach Hawkins had 12 points and C.J. Finley added 10 points.