Saugus girls hoops sweeps defending league champs Valencia

Mailey Ballard (right) eyes the basket as Libbie McMahan (left) tries to defend the attack. // Dan Watson/The Signal

Saugus girls basketball preserved its undefeated Foothill League record on Friday night as they beat Valencia for the second time this season, 73-64 at Saugus High School.

The Centurions relied on strong defense to win the game, but also its shots from beyond the arc. Saugus made 15 3-pointers en route to the win, with Riley Phipps leading the way with six. She finished the night with 24 points total.

“Our focus was definitely defense,” Phipps said. “And then the threes just came naturally for us today. And we shot them and hit them.”

Saugus (19-4 overall, 6-0 in Foothill League) won the opening tip, then Libbie McMahan dribbled down the court for a layup immediately after. Phipps hit a three, then Lulu Salloom drained one to put Saugus up 8-2.

Valencia (14-9, 4-2) chipped away to get back in the lead, pulling ahead by two points on a 3-pointer from Camille Pagkalinawan. Mailey Ballard increased the lead to 13-8 on a three-point play less than a minute later.

The Vikings ended the first quarter in the lead, 20-17.

Saugus took the lead back, however, by halftime. The Cents jumped ahead on a three to start the second quarter, but the Vikes tied it 22-22 shortly after.

The score was knotted once again with two minutes to go when Pagkalinawan drained a three, but Saugus’ three-point shooting helped them to a 38-32 lead heading into the break.

More: Valencia boys hoops sets program record with win over Saugus

Pagkalinawan finished the game with 18 points, with most coming on 3-pointers.

“I think she gets a lot of good looks because Mailey is keyed in on,” Valencia coach Kevin Honaker said. “She gets some open shots, but I think she also made her shots. At the end of the day, you have to make shots and she did it.”

Saugus took hold of the game in the third frame. Monique Febles scored on a putback to get the Centurions a 40-37 lead. A five-point run shortly after pushed the score to 48-39 by the time the clock reached six minutes.

Valencia big Skylar Ingram left the game due to injury with three minutes left in the third. The Vikings were without the shooting prowess of Nicole Weatherman, who left the team, as well.

The Vikings continued to fight and showed no signs of being depleted. Although Saugus won the game, the Vikes were able to outscore the Cents 12-11 in the last stanza.

Now that Saugus has defeated the reigning Foothill League champs again, the attention turns to completing the undefeated league season and winning a championship for itself.

“This is a huge deal for us,” Phipps said. “Beating them once is a huge deal, but beating them twice really set the limit and it was amazing.”

Valencia next plays Mater Dei today at the Tony Matson Classic before resuming league play against Hart at home on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Saugus plays at West Ranch on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Libbie McMahan sets up and shoots an open basket against Valencia Friday Night. // Dan Watson/The Signal

Hart 53, Golden Valley 38

Leila Uribe led the Indians (11-9, 4-2) with 13 points and added four steals and eight rebounds. Emma Allen added 11 points, four assists, three steals and nine rebounds and Laney Grider chipped in nine points, five steals and five rebounds. Evelin Herrera scored seven points and also had 12 rebounds and four blocks.

Golden Valley is 7-12 and 1-5 and hosts Canyon on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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