McIntyre sets ambitious goals for Saugus boys basketball

Saugus' Adrian McIntyre was named to the All-League First Team as a sophomore and continues to lead the Centurions in their quest for a league title. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Saugus’ point-forward extraordinaire Adrian McIntyre knows how to heat up on the basketball court.

Last year, in the first game of the season against Heritage Christian, he lit up the Warriors for 46 points. This season he dropped 39 against Viewpoint in the The Warrior Classic, including 18 first-quarter points.

He also knows how to heat things up in the kitchen.

The leader of the Centurions is a basketball junkie and also has a passion for cooking.

“In seventh and eighth grade I was able to do culinary at Arroyo Seco and ever since then I just like it, it’s fun,” he said.

McIntyre said his specialty dish is chicken alfredo.

How fitting that his favorite concoction shares the same name as his head coach, Alfredo Manzano, who is in his second season leading the varsity team.

“I love it,” McIntyre said about playing for Manzano. “He pushes me to my limits and even past that. I honestly wouldn’t want to play for any other coach.”

Manzano reciprocates that affection for his star player, who he says is just scratching the surface of his abilities on the basketball court.

While McIntyre has an innate ability to put the ball in the basket, Manzano believes what makes him special is his willingness to take the big shot.

“What separates him is a lot of players don’t want to take those big shots and he is telling me, ‘Coach, I’m taking that shot,’” Manzano said. “It’s that ‘mamba mentality,’ like Kobe (Bryant). You got to be able to live with consequences. If you make it you’re going to be great, if you miss it you got to be able to live with it. He doesn’t care, he wants to take that shot. I think that’s what separates him, his mindset when it comes to that.”

McIntyre grew up a Lakers fan and a Bryant fan in particular. Standing at 6-foot-3, he may be a few inches shorter than the Laker legend, but he’s certainly adopted that “mamba mentality” Manzano talked about.

“I’ve always been a Kobe fan. My game is not really similar to his, but his mentality, his drive, everything that he has, I’ve always admired that,” McIntyre said. “He’s always been a role model to me.”

McIntyre is a jack of all trades when he’s on the court. His scoring ability is unparalleled in the Foothill League, but he is also a solid rebounder, particularly on the offensive glass. He is an underrated passer and plays hard-nosed defense. He’s got deceptive speed and ball handling skills that make him a viable one-man press break.

He’s also proficient in the fundamentals, an area that can sometimes get lost in an era where the midrange jumper is falling to the wayside and teams live and die by the 3-point shot.

Not that McIntyre can’t launch from distance, because he certainly can light it up from beyond the arc, but he can also knock down 15-to-18-footers as well as post up in the paint.

“I’m trying to expand my offensive game so coaches and players have a hard time scouting me,” he said. “This year I’ve added my post game and working more down low and I’m trying to get my midrange up a lot higher as well as my basketball IQ.”

McIntyre is halfway through his junior year, and the three-year varsity player has made deep connections with all of his teammates, including his older brother Anthony, who was a senior on the varsity team when McIntyre was a freshman.

His bond with his teammates is clear, as he listed the contributions from the starters to the reserves, and the important role each player has in making Saugus one of the top teams in the area.

“I love my team. Those are the guys I’ve been rocking with since the beginning,” he said with a smile. “Having Nate (Perez) has helped me out so much with him being a deadly shooter in the corner. I have Cam (Nale) down low. He’s a big threat having him down there battling, getting all the rebounds and second-chance points. It’s big for me and the team to have him.

“Stephen Tampus is my guy, we go back to my freshman year. We’ve grown a lot as teammates, as friends, having that brotherhood. Kyle Santiago is breaking out right now. Alex Phan, he’s always been my guy, my hustler, he’s my animal. And my bench, if we don’t have our bench I don’t think we’d have the success we’re having. They bring us a lot of energy, a lot of momentum and we build off their energy.”

Everyone on Saugus’ roster plays a crucial role in the team’s success, but McIntyre is the leader and conductor who brings the team together.

A First Team All-Leaguer last year, McIntyre appreciates all the accolades he’s received and he’ll undoubtedly earn more in the future, but the individual awards really don’t mean that much to him.

He has one focus on his mind: winning a league title.

“To finish off this season with a league title is definitely my main goal right now. I’m not really worried about Player of the Year or First Team All-League,” he said. “I’m trying to win a league title because last time we won was back in ‘83. Every returning player and coach, that’s our goal this year, to win league.”

The Centurions are currently 14-6 overall and 4-1 in league play, with a highly-contested game coming up on Friday against Valencia, which is undefeated in league.

McIntyre is confident that his team can win out the rest of the season and capture the Foothill League crown.

And if there is a big shot that needs to be taken, he will certainly answer the call.

“He’s got something that is not coached, it’s not really taught. It’s instincts. It’s a knack to be at a certain place at the right time. It’s a knack to score the ball,” Manzano said. “He’s just a gamer, he finds a way. The ball finds him, he finds the ball, and he finds a way to get it into the hoop.”

At the end of every practice, the Centurions take half-court shots and keep a tally, in case the situation ever arises in a game where a long-distance shot is needed.

While Manzano said that the player who has made the most half-court shots in practice would be relied upon to shoot that shot in an in-game scenario, McIntyre ultimately would be the one to take that shot.

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We say if we ever need a half-court shot, whoever has the most on the board, that’s who is going to shoot in the game,” Manzano said. “Adrian is like, ‘I don’t care if I only have one and somebody has six, coach, I’m taking that shot.’ That’s Adrian for you. He’s going to want to take that shot.”

McIntyre has already proven that he has a calmness about him in huge moments, hitting big shot after big shot since joining the Saugus program three years ago.

And although he regularly catches fire, the heat won’t melt the ice in his veins.

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