When Libbie McMahan’s hand is hot, you give her the ball.
That was the message for the Saugus basketball team on multiple occasions on Tuesday night as the Centurions beat Canyon 54-38 at Canyon.
McMahan finished with 29 points in the game, which was the second win over the Cowboys of the season.
“I was a lot more relaxed today,” McMahan said. “I feel like last game I was more tense. Sometimes I’m off and sometimes I’m on. I feel like today I was just really relaxed and when it goes in it goes in, so I just kept shooting.”
The Cents (24-3 overall, 7-2 in Foothill League) gained control of the game early, doubling Canyon’s score at 12-6 with less than a minute left in the first quarter on a putback from McMahan and a free throw from Monique Febles.
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The Cowboys’ Julia Fung hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the second quarter, but McMahan sank two free throws and scored on a layup to keep Saugus ahead at 16-9.
Chidinma Ikonte corralled an offensive rebound for two points for Canyon (14-13, 6-3), then repeated the same process on the Cowboys’ next possession. Saugus’ Danielle Wilkes guarded Ikonte aggressively, but the Canyon big still managed to finish the game with 19 points.
“To say she’s developed is an understatement,” said Canyon coah Jessica Haayer of Ikonte. “I really think she’s come a long way and is owning was she’s doing. Still trying to bring that ‘grrr’ out of her but she’s figuring it out and for a kid that just started playing basketball in the ninth grade, she’s not doing too bad.”
McMahan shouldered the scoring load for Saugus in the second quarter, with 10 points in the frame, then Eden MacKenzie pulled up for a jumper to bring the score to 27-20 heading into halftime.
The Cowboys began to use their height advantage in their favor in terms of guarding the Centurions in the second half, but Saugus was still able to score 16 points in the third quarter.
“Doing a lot of screens in practice and like our jump stops,” McMahan said of working around Canyon’s bigs. “When you have someone that gets like eight blocks a game, you can’t really just go to the basket so you try to jump stop it so when someone switches on you, you just get the foul.”
Ikonte started the third quarter grabbing an offensive rebound for two points, but Febles and Ashlyn Canel each had a layup in a span of 20 seconds to give Saugus a 10-point advantage near the five-minute mark.
Jordan Wise and Ellie Villavicencio each nailed a trey for Canyon to cut the deficit to 32-28, but Saugus went on a scoring tear that concluded with a layup and an and-one opportunity for Febles, who had to fight for her nine points in the contest.
“Monique is always been like that,” McMahan said. “She’s always been a tough cookie, so when she just goes to the basket, she’s trying to score and when she gets that and-one she always gets the free throw shot in.”
McMahan made two straight 3-pointers to kick off the fourth quarter, then hit another with four minutes left in the game for a 20-point advantage.
Saugus beat Canyon earlier this season on their home court, marking the first win over the Cowboys in seven years. But neither team had the last meeting on its mind on Tuesday night.
“We’re not really looking at who we’re playing right now,” said Saugus coach Jason Conn. “We’re just looking at games, playing games, not who we’re playing but just winning and getting better. That’s all we’re looking at right now. We didn’t shoot well last time against them. Tonight we shot very well.”
Canyon travels to Valencia on Friday night and Saugus will be at Hart.
Valencia 64, Golden Valley 37
Yasmine Allhamara led Valencia (16-10, 9-0) with 12 points, followed by Skylar Ingram who had 10 points and six rebounds as the Vikings clinched the Foothill League title on Tuesday night. Marissa Howell added 10 points, Audrey Field had nine and Mailey Ballard had seven.
For Golden Valley, Shyann Franklin scored 14 points and pulled down four rebounds. Kimberly Manary had eight points and six rebounds, Imani McGee had nine points and four rebounds and Lianna Calvo had four points, three rebounds and three assists.
The Grizzlies are now 9-15 and 1-8 and host West Ranch on Friday.
Hart 73, West Ranch 20
Trudy Larkins logged a team-high 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Indians. Emily Munoz had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds. Madi Knight scored 12 points and had five steals, while Rachel Martinez scored 11 points and pulled down five boards.