By Tony Ciniglio
For The Signal
BEVERLY HILLS – Donning ripped jeans and a gray sweatshirt under a black Saugus polo shirt, Adrian McIntyre commanded attention at midcourt as the Saugus basketball team warmed up for its playoff opener.
However McIntyre’s biggest fashion statement was his boot.
Sidelined with a broken right foot, McIntyre wore a bulky foot brace and could only offer emotional support as Saugus battled valiantly, but succumbed to Beverly Hills 75-55 on Friday night in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA first-round game at Beverly Hills High.
“It was hard to watch the seniors play their last game and not be able to play with them,” McIntyre said. “Shoutout to them for giving it their all.”
McIntyre sustained the injury outside of basketball in the final week of the regular season.
He said he tried to play through the injury in the regular-season finale against Hart, but it became too severe and decided to begin his 6-8 week recovery.
“Playing on it just made it worse,” McIntyre said.
Outgunned and outmanned, outnumbered and outplanned – cue the Hamilton music – Saugus coach Alfredo Manzano could have used his Right Hand Man.
It was not just that McIntyre averaged 22 points per game for Saugus. It was also his 10 rebounds per game. His five assists. His four steals.
And his leadership.
“He actually did awesome all week trying to encourage the guys,” Manzano said. “And I heard him on the bench tonight trying to rally the guys.”
Saugus finished with a 17-9 record, having tied for second place in the Foothill League with West Ranch.
Manzano reminded his players that they succeeded without McIntyre in a few offseason showcase events, posting a 6-2 record at the Warrior Showcase, the West Coast Elite Showcase and the Alemany Showcase.
“Even when he was out before, we had other guys step up, and I tried to remind them of that,” Manzano said. “With a senior-heavy team, I thought we had a week to make up the ground without Adrian. It just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Saugus remained within striking distance for much of the first half.
Stephen Tampus hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter to close within 18-14, and Cristian Manzano converted a floater in the final seconds of the second quarter to close within 37-27 at the half.
“Our job is to compete every time we are on the court, and we definitely competed,” Saugus guard Kyle Santiago said. “To replace Adrian, we had to have some guys step up like me, and I tried, but I didn’t do enough.”
Nathan Perez led the charge with 20 points, including three 3-pointers in the second half.
Tampus finished with eight points. Santiago scored seven points for Saugus.
Manzano – the coach’s freshman son – scored seven points after being recalled from the junior varsity squad. Amit Walia added six points.
“We were trying to fight the whole game,” Perez said. “And I want to thank our seniors who were always pushing us this year.”
Beverly Hills just had too much firepower on Friday.
Ben Ramirez scored 22 points, including an impressive 3-pointer from the corner to beat the third-quarter buzzer. Blake Lander finished with 15 points, Marcel Stevens scored 14 points, and Chandler Sooferan had 10 points for Beverly Hills (22-4), which travels to Empire League champion Cypress on Tuesday.
“At the beginning, I felt we were doing good. We had it,” McIntyre said. “Once Beverly Hills put on a run, it was hard to punch back.”