Saugus High School has one of the loudest, most rambunctious student sections in the Foothill League. On Tuesday, the “Blue Crew” along with the Saugus boys basketball team traveled to Hart in the schools’ first matchup of the season.
Saugus head coach Alfredo Manzano urged his team to strike first and come out of the gates hot. The Centurions heard the call and responded in an 81-56 victory.
“I thought the energy was great,” Manzano said. “It’s good to see us come out of the gate’s quick. This is the first league game that we came out and set the tone. Every game before that we are down or up by one, but this time we brought good energy and shots were falling.”
With the victory, Saugus (15-7 overall, 3-2 Foothill League) leaps into a three-way tie for third place with Hart and West Ranch.
Adrian McIntyre got the Centurions offense going with the game’s first points, but it was White and Perez who maintained the 11-0 Saugus run to begin the contest.
White finished the game with eight points (two 3’s), four rebounds and a couple of timely blocks. Perez recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He added four assists.
“Nate (Perez) is getting better and stronger and Davis (White) is a true sophomore,” Manzano said. “He probably has some more growing to do and we are playing him around the perimeter and he just has tons of energy.
“The kid is one speed right now, but once he figures out how to change speeds, he’s going to be even better. He gives us a lot of second chances opportunities, is able to defend around the perimeter, has some good athleticism and length.”
Hart senior guard Ty Penberthy stopped the bleeding with a timely layup with five minutes to go in the first quarter.
Penberthy finished the game with 16 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Hart (13-10, 3-2) rises and falls with their guard play as Dillon Barrientos, Isaac Deedon and Penberthy do the majority of the ball-handling to set up the defense.
Playing tough, denial defense and constantly pestering the guards, Saugus’ Kyle Santiago, Stephen Tampus and Jared Seow hampered the Indians offense throughout the first half.
Barrientos led the team in scoring with 17 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Freshman Brady Dunlap entered the game at the 3:21 mark in the first quarter and did his best to keep the Indians in the game with his length and high basketball IQ.
Dunlap finished with eight points and six rebounds, but the Indians still found themselves down 13 at the half, trailing 38-25.
Whittling away at the Saugus lead, the Indians got within eight points after a Barrientos three, but Perez quickly answered with back-to-back floaters in the lane to push the lead back to double digits.
Towards the end of the third quarter, McIntyre began to impose his will on the opposing Hart defenders, often finding himself in a mismatch with smaller Indians defenders.
McIntyre scored 20 of his game-high 31 points in the second half. He got his double-double with 10 rebounds and added four assists and five steals.
“He’s been buying into team-first and then letting the ball come back to him. I think that’s what he was doing in the first half a lot,” Manzano said. “At halftime, we asked him, ‘who can guard you out there?’ And we looked at that a little bit and he kind of took off.”
Both teams are back in action on Friday as Saugus hosts Valencia and Hart hosts Golden Valley. Tip-off for both matches is 6:30 p.m.
Valencia 90, Canyon 64
The Vikings (19-4 overall, 5-0 Foothill League) won their fifth straight Foothill League and were led by Jake Hlywiak, who broke his own school record in 3’s in a season with 100, after a 23-point (four 3’s) and five rebounds performance.
Noah Veluzat had 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds and JR Camacho finished with 14 points and three steals.
Eli Brill added 17 points, while KJ Jones scored four points, six assists and five steals.
Canyon (11-12, 1-4) hosts West Ranch at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.