Beginning the game with a turnover on its first possession, the Saugus boys basketball team quickly turned things around on Hart’s senior night, coming away with a 78-50 win in the final game of the regular season.
After the turnover, the Centurions went on a 14-0 run to begin the game, led by the smooth shooting of freshman Nathan Perez and Camron Nale’s inside presence in the first quarter.
Perez finished with a game-high 26 points and four rebounds.
“My teammates were just finding me and I was feeling it the whole night,” Perez said. “I’m able to do a little bit of everything and get everyone involved, so if I drive in I can kick it out or I can take it myself.”
Hart scored its first points of the game with 2:34 left in the first on a Julian Verrier layup, followed by a Jesse Barrientos corner 3. That was all the points the Indians would score in the first as they trailed 21-5.
“We felt that we haven’t played our best basketball yet and we stopped talking about schemes and offense and defense and all that,” said Saugus head coach Alfredo Manzano. “We just said our energy early in the season was fantastic and we wanted to touch up on that. Guys just came with a chip on their shoulder today wanting to defend and flying all over the place.”
Holding a 16-point lead heading into the second quarter, Saugus (17-8 overall, 7-3 in Foothill League) allowed Hart to climb back into the game.
Hart’s Ty Penberthy hit two 3’s on back-to-back possessions to cut into the Saugus lead 24-11. Joey Harand and Dillon Barrientos followed with 3’s of their own but just couldn’t get within single digits of the Centurions.
Nale missed a two-footer inside the lane, stole the ball back and put it back. Then, on the next possession, Amit Walia came down the court and sank a 3 for Saugus.
Nale finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“Cam came up huge for us and it was even bigger for him,” Manzano said. “We had a talk with him after our last game, over at Canyon, and just a lot of encouragement and positivity. We had an emphasis to establish the post and we told him we are going to go into you.”
At halftime, Saugus still held a double-digit lead at 36-23.
In the third, Saugus’ Stephen Tampus took matters into his own hands. Looking more confident in his abilities, he pulled up for a transition 3 to extend the lead to 41-25.
Perez followed with a 3-pointer and a reverse layup, forcing Hart to call a timeout.
Hart (8-18, 3-7) came out of the pause in a full-court press, but Saugus’ Adrian McIntyre broke the press finding Perez and Jared Seow for outlet passes and doubled Hart score at 62-31 with 42 second left.
With the game in hand, Manzano subbed out all his starters but left Perez on the floor allowing some of the reserves to get some quality minutes.
Freshman Davis White hit two 3’s in the quarter to finish with seven points and Ethan Roush chipped in four points in the Saugus win.
Saugus finishes the season tied for second with West Ranch and Hart finishes tied with Canyon for fourth place.
West Ranch 61, Golden Valley 44
The Wildcats (17-9, 7-3) are headed to the playoffs after tying for second-place in Foothill League with Saugus.
West Ranch’s Clyde Seo finished the game with 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Alex Grant chipped in 10 points and six rebounds, while Robbie Myers had seven points and seven rebounds. Carter Williams added three points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Golden Valley finishes the season 3-22 overall and 0-10 in league.