Watching Saugus girls hoops head coach Jason Conn in a Burroughs Summer League game against Camarillo at John Burroughs High School on Tuesday, most would think that the Centurions are in the midst of a deep playoff run.
Feeding off their coach’s intensity, Saugus looked confident, played fierce defense and showed poise from start to finish in a 30-24 win over the Scorpions.
“We were dynamite,” Conn said. “The defense especially was really good. They were moving, they were getting in the right spots, they were anticipating where to go and that was really important today. They were out there playing really good defense and I think that was the key.”
Employing a team made up of mostly players that were on the junior varsity team last season, Saugus stormed out to an early 4-0 lead thanks to newcomer Lorita Salloom who started at point guard as last year’s starting point guard Monique Febles sat courtside, but did not play due to an ankle injury.
Adding to the list of last year’s returners who didn’t play were Libbie McMahan, Eden MacKenzie and Maliah Sourgose who were all out of town.
Camarillo began the game in a full-court press, but thanks to Salloom’s length and size, Saugus was able to successfully get the ball up court to fellow newcomers Celeste Aguilar or Shauntel Lowe.
Salloom showcased a wide range of abilities and finished with a team-high 11 points, three rebounds and two steals.
“Her strength, her jumping ability and her defense,” Conn said about Salloom. “She’s just a really good player. She gets after it out there, is a very strong player and worked really hard.”
With Salloom taking care of the ball-handling duties, Lowe and Aguilar were able to establish low-post position as the two were up for the challenge showcasing good footwork and strong post moves with their backs to the basket.
The two combined to four points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
At halftime, Saugus led Camarillo 16-10.
Saugus continued its dominance in the second half as senior Madison Seyforth showed her maturity and leadership, directing players where to go and finding Riley Phipps on numerous baseline cuts.
“Maddy has been with the team for four years now,” Conn said. “She is a leader out there, she directs people around and she knows what she’s doing out there. When she has the ball in her hands, I’m very confident that it’s going to be thrown to one of our players.”
Sophomore Victoria Phan also contributed to the Saugus lead by scoring five of her nine points in the second half, getting into the lane and scoring amongst much taller defenders. She also contributed defensively, finishing the game with three steals and two rebounds.
Down the stretch, Phipps hit a long-range jumper to shut the door any Camarillo comeback in a well-rounded Saugus win.
Saugus plays Immaculate Heart in the Burbank High School tournament tomorrow at 4 p.m.
“We are becoming a more intelligent team,” Conn said. “We are more poised, not where we want to be by any means, but we are getting there. We have a lot of JV girls on this team, we have four girls that played JV last year, and they did great.
“Once they learn to get in with the other girls, which they are, and they get their confidence, I think poise is the biggest thing. Don’t get frustrated out there, stay composed at all times and I think we will be dynamite.”