In the aftermath of the tragedy that took the lives of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant along with seven others, Saugus and West Ranch boys basketball held a moment of silence for 24 seconds to honor the lives lost.
At West Ranch High School on Tuesday, Saugus senior Adrian McIntyre grew up watching and idolizing Bryant and when he heard the news on Sunday, he understood what he had to do.
“Most people didn’t know Kobe personally, but for me he was my idol growing up,” McIntyre said. “He was the reason why I started watching and playing basketball, and knowing that he passed away, I wanted to dedicate the rest of the season to him by having that ‘Mamba Mentality.’”
Using the extra motivation, McIntyre and the Centurions avenged a loss in the team’s first meeting in a 73-64 win.
McIntyre recorded a double-double with a game-high 28 points, 10 rebs and seven assists in the nine-point Saugus win.
Saugus (16-8 overall, 4-3 Foothill League) got things going and jumped out to a 9-2 lead, but after the first matchup, the Cents opted to have McIntyre defend West Ranch’s big Jonah El-Farra and Camron Nale cover the Wildcats’ combo guard Clyde Seo.
Initially, Seo took advantage of the mismatch by driving into the lane, bringing the home team back into striking distance. After two El-Farra free-throws, the Wildcats (12-13, 3-4) found themselves down a point.
Switching defensive tactics, McIntyre started out guarding Seo in the second quarter and it seemed to work as McIntyre stole the ball from Seo and drove to the rim for the breakaway layup.
After Seo picked up his second foul with 3:27 left in the first half, Saugus saw a mismatch down low and inserted Andrew Shultz into the game.
Delivering all of his 10 points inside the paint in the second quarter, Schultz reinvigorated the Cents and extended the lead.
“He was huge because he was the guy that we were going to go to first off the bench because of the matchups, but I think a lot of them were really good setups,” Saugus head coach Alfredo Manzano said of Schultz. “All he had to do was grab it and put it in the hole for us.”
With under 15 seconds to go until halftime, Seo nailed a corner three to get within six points. But in fitting fashion with time winding down, Saugus’ Cristian Manzano found Schultz for a layup to go up eight points.
Using the deep ball to their advantage, West Ranch’s Bryan Malcolm, Sage Kita and Max Morales (two threes) all found their stroke and pulled the team within four points after three quarters.
Morales finished the game with 10 points, Malcolm had 11 points (three threes) and Kita seven points.
Dealing with foul trouble for most of the game, Seo quickly picked up his fourth foul at the 7:23 mark in the fourth quarter.
With Seo on the bench, for the time being, El-Farra got to work. Working the boards, grabbing loose balls and shouldering the scoring, the West Ranch big scored six of his 16 points in the final frame. He added nine rebounds and two blocks.
Down 63-56, Seo re-entered the game with under four minutes to go, but Saugus was able to keep the ball away from the Wildcats, sank some free throws and won the game.
“We played hard and did good offensively,” El-Farra said. “We just had some defensive aspects of our game that weren’t there the whole night. We just have to move forward with the positive attitude.”
Saugus and West Ranch continue Foothill League play on the road on Friday at 6:30 p.m. as Saugus travels to Golden Valley and West Ranch travels to Valencia.